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Full text of "The Australian explorers; their labours, perils, and achievements: being a narrative of discovery, from the landing of Captain Cook to the centennial year"

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO 



822 00323 9241 



3 1 



THE 



AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS 



THEIR 



LABOURS, PERILS, AND ACHIEVEMENTS 



BEING A MREATIYE OF DISCOVERY FROM THE LANDING OF CAPTAIN 
COOK TO THE CENTENNIAL YEAR 



BY 



GEORGE GRIMM, M.A. 



MINISTER OF ST, PAUL S, BALMAIN WEST, SYDNEY ; AND TUTOR IN 
APOLOGETICS AND SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY TO THE PRESBY- 
TERIAN CHURCH OF NEW SOUTH WALES 



GEORGE ROBERTSON & COMPANY 
MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY 

1S8S 



xO' 



w 



1>LL 



TO THE MEMORY 



OF THE LATE 



JOHN DUNMORE LANG, D.D. 



IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE 



OF MUCH PLEASANT INTERCOURSE 



THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED 



PREFACE. 



The Story of the Exploration of Australia is 
one which we cannot willingly let die. There are 
many reasons for keeping alive the remembrance of 
such heroic deeds. It is due to the memory of those 
men who took their lives in their hands, and, in many 
cases, laid their bones in the desert ; it is an act of 
gratitude on our part, who have entered on their 
labours ; and it is a kind of information indispensable 
to every Australian who desires to know the history 
of his country. And yet there is great danger of their 
being practically forgotten. The time when the 
harvest of discovery was reaped has faded into the 
past, and a generation is growing up not well 
informed on these most interesting adventures and 
achievements. Nor are the sources of information easily 
obtainable by those who purposely put themselves on 
the search. The journals of the explorers, never too 
plentiful, have now become scarce. They are only 
occasionally met with in private hands, where they 
are, for good reasons, held as a treasure. A consi( IcrabK' 
number of these works are to be found in the Sydney 
School of Arts, but they have been withdrawn from 
circulation, and are now kept for special reference 
only, in a glass case, under lock and key. The 



VI PREFACE. 

Government Library contains the best collection 
extant, but even there it has been deemed necessary to 
adopt restrictive regulations, with the view of giving 
the books a longer lease of existence. This scarcity 
of the sources of information, and these restrictions 
which fence in the few that remain, may be accepted 
as a sufficient plea for the effort here made to 
popularize the knowledge they contam. But I would 
warn the reader not to expect from this small volume 
what it does not profess to give. In no sense does it 
pretend to be elaborate or exhaustive. I have had to 
study brevity for another reason than its being the 
soul of wit. It would have been a pleasant task to 
write long descriptions of Australian scenery, and to 
follow the explorers even into the by-paths of their 
journeys; but the result would have been just what I 
have had to avoid — a bulky volume. Yet, such as it 
is, I hope the book will be found acceptable to the man 
of business, who can neither afford to be ignorant of 
this subject nor find time to enter into its minutijB ; 
to the youth of our country, who cannot obtain access 
to the original sources ; and to the general reader, who 
desires to be told in simple, artless language the main 
outlines of this fascinating story. 

Having written on a subject in no waj' connected 
with my profession, I may be allowed to say, in a 
word, how my thoughts came to be diverted into this 
channel. Probably they would never have been so 
directed to any great extent had it not happened that 
the path of duty led me into the tracks of several of 



PREFACE. Vll 

the most eminent explorers. In earlier days it was my 
lot to travel, in the service of the Gospel, most exten- 
sively in the interior of Queensland, principally on 
the lines of the Condamine, the Dawson, the Balonne, 
the Maranoa, and the Warrego rivers. In these 
situations it was natural to wish for information as to 
the way and manner in which those pastoral regions 
had been opened up for settlement. Not much was 
to be gleaned from the occupants themselves ; but it 
fortunately happened that Sir Thomas Mitchell's 
journal fell into my hands when amidst the scenes 
of one of his most splendid discoveries, the Fitzroy 
Powns, and almost under the shadow of his well- 
named Mount Abundance. The taste then obtained 
was sufficient to whet the appetite for more, and the 
prosecution of this favourite study has issued in 
what I may be permitted to call a tolerable acquaint- 
ance with the exploration of Australia. About seven 
or eight years ago I wrote a series of papers on this 
subject for the Sydney Mail, bringing the history 
down to the expedition of Burke and Wills. The 
proprietors of that journal have kindly permitted me 
to make use of my former articles in the preparation 
of this work; but of this permission, for which I 
would here record my thanks, I have availed myself 
only to a moderate extent. The whole has been re- 
written, some inadvertencies liave been corrected, and 
the history in its main outlines l)rought down to the 
present time. Although my principal concern has 
been with the land explorers, I liave, in the iiitroduc- 



viii PREFACE. 

tion, given a sketch of the discoveries made on our 
coasts by the navigators. So much was necessary to 
the completeness of my plan, and also because the 
achievements of both to some extent dovetail into 
one another. In the arrangement of the succeeding 
chapters I have followed the chronological order, 
except in a very few cases where a more important 
principle of classification will be obvious to the 
reader. 

As regards authorities, I have spared no pains to 
get at the original sources of information, and have 
succeeded in all but a few unimportant exceptions. 
In these cases I have derived some help from inter- 
views with surviving relatives of the explorers and 
several very old colonists. I have also been indebted 
for further lio-ht to works of acknowledsfed merit 
which have been for some time before the public — 
notably, to the Rev. J. E. Tenison Woods's " Explora- 
tion of Australia," and to Mr. Howitt's " Discoveries 
in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand." My best 
acknowledgments are also due to the Honourable 
P. G. King, Esq., M.L.C., for the excellent notes he 
has written on the discoveries made by his dis- 
tinguished father, Admiral King. 

That this small volume may be found to aftbrd 
pleasant and profitable reading is the earnest wish of 

THE AUTHOR. 

Balmaiin" West, Sydney, 
18th May, 188S. 



CON T E N T S. 



PAGE 

Introduction — The Australian Nayigators - 1 

CHAPTER I. 

The Pioneers of the Blue Mountains - - 25 

CHAPTER II. 

Evans's Discovery of the Lachlan and Macquarik M 

CHAPTER III. 

Oxley's Expedition to the Lachlan and Macquarik 37 

CHAPTER IV. 

Hume and Hovell's Expedition from Lake George 

TO Port Phillip - - - - - 45 

CHAPTER V. 
Allan Cunningham's Explorations - - - 53 

CHAPTER VI. 
Captain Sturt's Three Expeditions - - 66 

CHAPTER VII. 

Evre's Adventurous Journey along the Great 

Australian Bight - - - - 96 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Sir Thomas Mitchell's Four Expeditions - - 110 

1 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IX. 

I* AGE 

Kennedy's Disastkoi s Expekition to Cape York - 144 

CHAPTER X. 

Leichhardt's Expeditions to Port Essington .vnd 

INTO THE Interior - - - - 152 

CHAPTER XI. 

Mr. a. C. Gregory's Expedition to the North- 
west Interior - - - - - 163 

CHAPTER XII. 

Burke and Wills's Expedition Across the Aus- 
tralian Continent _ _ _ _ i67 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Search Expeditions in Quest of Burke .^'d 

Wills ------ 182 

CHAPTER XIV. 

John M'Douall Stuart's Expeditions in the South, 

TO the Centre, and Across the Continent - 194 

CHAPTER XV. 

Colonel Warburton's Journey" across the "\^'estern 

Interior ------ 210 

CHAPTER XVI. 

The Hon. John Forrest's Explorations in Western 

Australia ------ 219 



CONTENTS. XI 

CHAPTER XVII. 

PAGE 

Mr. Ehxbst Giles's Explohatioxs in CK>rTRAL .\:nd 

Westekx Australia _ - _ _ 228 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
Other Explorers in Western Australia — Conclusion 2^7 



THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 



INTRODUCTION: PIONEER NAVIGATORS. 

The eastern coast of New Holland, as Australia was 
then called, was discovered by Captain Cook, while 
engaged in the hrst of his voyages round the world. 
Leaving Cape Farewell, in New Zealand, on the l.Sth 
of March, 1770, and steering a north-westerly course, 
on the 18th of April he found the new continent rise 
into view in one of its south-eastern headlands, which 
was then named Point Hicks, but is now known as 
Cape Conran, and reckoned within the territory of 
Victoria. Henceforward the Endeavour was navi- 
gated along the coast to its most northern limit. In 
these southern waters no practicable landing-place 
was observed till Botany Bay was reached. Here the 
good sliip came to anchor, and nearly a week was 
passed amidst the strangest sights and scenes. This 
brief interlude being over, the northern voyage was 
resumed in quest of further discoveries. Scarcely 
luul the Botany Heads faded from the view when 
another large inlet was sighted from the deck of 
the vessel, but, unhappily, not visited. The point 



2 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

of observation being miserably inadequate, the great 
navig-ator was all unconscious of his being abreast of 
the finest harbour pf the world, and havinof oiven it 
the name of Port Jackson, in honour of a dis- 
tinguished English friend, held on his course without 
pause or delay. For a while all went well witli the 
navigator, but in an hour when no danger was 
expected a cry of " breakers ahead " brought to 
everyone on board a sense of extreme peril. By dint 
of the captain's superior seamanship, and his perfect 
command over the crew, the ship was turned from the 
rocks in a critical moment, and tlie expedition rescued 
from a disastrous termination. The locality of this 
threatened calamity was marked by a projection of the 
land, overhung by a conspicuous hill, to which Cook 
gave the respective names of Point Danger and Mount 
Warning, positions which the reader will recognize as 
now forming the coastal Ijoundary between New 
South Wales and Queensland. But the Endeavour 
was not to finish her voyage without making a still 
closer acquaintance with misfortune. Having un- 
consciously approached a hidden danger in the far 
north, she landed bodily on a reef, and sustained most 
serious damage. It was only after the sacrifice of 
much valuable cargo that she could be floated, and 
then it taxed all the skill of the captain and the 
utmost energies of his crew to bring her to the nearest 
anchorage. The port of safety, reached with so much 
difficulty, proved to be the mouth of a small river, 
which has since borne the name of the Endeavour. 



INTRODUCTION. ii 

The repair of the crazy vessel occupied a period of six 
weeks, during which " Jack ashore " enjoyed rather 
exciting holidays, making his lirst acquaintance with 
the kangaroo and other grotesque oddities of the 
Australian fauna. Having again put to sea, only one 
stage more remained, and this over, the great navi- 
gator reached Cape York, the extreme northern limit 
of this new territory. Cook succeeded in his object 
to a degree that must have surpassed his most 
sanguine anticipations, and now took care that his 
labours should not be in vain, but redound to the 
benetit of liis country. All that was wanting was a 
declaration of ownership, and this he accordingly 
made on the spot : " As I am now about to quit the 
eastern coast of New Holland, which I have coasted 
from 88° latitude to this place, and which I am 
confident no European has ever seen before, I once 
more hoist the English colours (although I have 
already taken possession of the whole eastern coast by 
the name of New South Wales, from its great 
similarity to that part of the principality of Wales), 
in the right of my sovereign, George III., King of 
Great Britain." 

This welcome gift fell into the hands of the nation 
in a time of need. Transportation to Virginia having 
come to an end through the revolt of the American 
colonies, the Enolish oaols were beino- tilled to overflow 
with criminals, and a new outlet was imperatively 
required. Somewhere in the world a place had to be 
found for a penal settlement. The publication of 



4 THE AUSTEALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Cook's discoveries came in the nick of time, and 
delivered the Government from embarrassment. It 
was resolved accordingly to establish a crown colony 
at Botany Bay, which had been fully and only too 
favourably described by the circumnavigator. On the 
ISth of March, 1787, a fleet consisting of eleven ships, 
carrying 757 convicts and 200 soldiers, was despatched 
under the command of Captain Phillip, a retired 
military officer. The voyage being somewhat cir- 
cuitous, its destination was not reached till the IStli 
of January following. Less than a week sufficed to 
show that Cook's picture of Botany had more of colour 
than correctness. The shores were found to be shallow, 
the roadstead exposed, and the adjacent lan<l ill suited 
to the purpose in view. Without loss of time, the 
Governor, with his assistants, proceeded to examine 
the capabilities of Port Jackson, which had been 
cursorily seen at a distance by Cook and dis- 
missed in a single sentence of his otherwise copious 
narrative. The exploration issued in unmeasured 
satisfaction and surprise. The party returned to the 
encampment with the tidings of a harbour with a 
hundred coves, on the ample bosom of which all the 
navies of Europe might ride at anchor. Orders to 
decamp were issued forthwith, and the removal of the 
nascent colony was the work of but a day or two. The 
spot selected for the permanent home is contiguous to 
the modern Circular Quay, and was recommended for 
acceptance by a clear and limpid stream that glided on 
its course underneath the indigenous copse. The 



INTRODUCTION, 5 

infant colony had its baptism of hardship, but was 
able to survive the struggle for existence. The 
inauguration took place on the 7th of February, 1788, 
when tlie settlement was formally proclaimed a crown 
<3olony, in circumstances of no small state and 
ceremony. 

The passion for discovery soon took possession of 
the new arrivals, and the adventurous Governor placed 
himself in the front of this enterprise. To us who live 
in times when Australia has ceased to be an unknown 
land, their efforts in this direction may appear to have 
been small and the results insignificant, l:»ut it should 
not be forgotten that the horizon was at that time the 
limit of discovery, even in meagre outline, whilst an 
accurate survey had scarcely proceeded a couple of 
miles beyond the settlement. On the 2nd of May the 
Governor and party sailed off in the long-boat for the 
purpose of exploring Broken Bay, which had been 
seen and named by Captain Cook, but not entered. 
It proved to be the entrance to a large river, ex- 
panding to an immense width, and abounding in 
exquisite natural scenery. Having crossed the bar, 
three distinct divisions of Broken Bay were explored, 
and to the last of which they gave the name of Pitt 
Water, in honour of the far-famed English premier. 
Next year this success was followed up with the 
exploration of the river (the Hawkesbury) which here 
enters the sea. Large tracts of rich alluvial land were 
found on both sides. In a short time hence these 
fertile flats became the homes of an industrious 



() THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

agricultural population, who frequently saved Sydney 
from the horrors of famine. This voyage of discovery 
was continued as far ^s Richmond Hill (the Kurrajong), 
from which position the chasm in the mountains was 
distinctly seen, and the sentries which guard its 
entrance named the Carmarthen and Lansdown Hills. 
It was the exploration of the coast-line, however, 
that principally engaged the attention of the infant 
colony, and for this work two men of rare ability 
stepped to the front. In 1795, just seven years after 
the foundation of the colony, Captain Hunter, having 
been appointed Governor in succession to Captain 
Phillip, arrived in Port Jackson with the Reliance 
and the Supply, bringing George Bass as surgeon and 
Matthew Flinders in the capacity of midshipman. 
These adventurous and truly kindred spirits lost no 
time in girding themselves up for the work of 
discovery. They had been barely a month in the 
country when the colonists saw them start on their first 
expedition. Taking only a boy for general service, 
and embarking in a boat not more than eight feet 
long — very suitably named the Tom Thumb — they 
sailed round to Botany Bay, thence up George's River, 
which was now explored for 20 miles beyond what was 
previously known. The results were, the opening up 
of much available land and the commencement of a 
new settlement under the name of Bankstown, which 
is still retained. But the success attending this 
adventure was eclipsed by next year's discoveries, which 
were achieved under similar difficulties. The tiny 



INTRODUCTION. 7 

Tom TliiiAnb, with its crew of three all told, again left 
Port Jackson for the purpose of examining a large 
river which was supposed to enter the ocean to the 
south of Botany Bay. Having stood out to sea in 
order to catch the current, the voj'agers unwittingly 
passed the object of their search and were carried far 
southward. Bad weather now supervened ; the little 
craft was tossed like a cork on the billows, and 
finally beached in a heavy surf with the loss of many 
valuables on board. Being now in want of water, the 
party were compelled to leave the rock-bound coast 
and steer still further south, in the hope of finding a 
more favourable locality. Eventually they cast 
anchor about two miles beyond the present to^^^l of 
Wollonoono- in an inlet which, in commemoration of 
this incident, still bears the name of the Tom Thumb 
Lagoon. The blacks, it was ascertained, called the 
district Allourie, which has, doubtless, been trans- 
formed into the more euphonious Illawarra. On the 
homeward voyage Bass and Flinders made a season- 
able discovery of a snug little shelter, which they 
called Providential Cove, but which is now generally 
known by the native name, Wattamolla, About four 
miles further north they were fortunate at last in 
hitting upon the real object of their search. It prove<l 
to be a laro-e sheet of water stretchini»: several miles 
inland, and presented the appearance of a port rather 
than a river. The natives spoke of it as " Deeban," 
but it is now called Port Hacking, it is believed in 
acknowledgment of the services of a pilot of that 



8 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

name. Having accomplished far more than the object 
they had in view, the daring seamen returned to 
Sydney Cove, after passing through a succession of 
perils and privations which give to their narrative the 
character, not of sober history, but of wild romance. 

The next important expedition was carried out 
under the sole conduct of Bass. On his own petition 
the Governor furnished him with a whale-boat, 
carrying a crew of six seamen and provided with 
supplies for six weeks only. With so slender an 
equipment this born adventurer sailed from Port 
Jackson on a voyage of GOO miles, along a little- 
known and possibly perilous coast. One lovely 
summer evening, which happened to be the 3rd of 
December, 1797, the little whaler with its stout- 
hearted crew bore round the South Head, and bravely 
turned its prow towards its unknown destination. 
Scarcely had the familiar landmarks dropped out of 
sight when the elements engaged in tempestuous fury, 
and the storm drove the adventurers to seek shelter 
hrst at Port Hacking, next at Wattamolla, and again 
near Cook's Red Point, on the Illawarra coast. The 
headland, under the lee of which the vessel took 
refuge, stands a little to the south of Lake Illawarra, 
and still bears the name of Bass' Point, Not long- 
after the voyage was resumed he discovered the 
embouchure of a river in an inferior harbour, wdiich he 
called Shoalhaven, believing it deserved no better 
name. Jervis Bay was next entered, but this was no 
discovery, for it had been previously explored by 



INTRODUCTION. 9 

Lieutenant Bowen, whose name is still preserved in 
an island lying near the entrance. Bass, however, 
had the good luck to discover Twofold Bay — a scene 
of never-failing beauty, and a place of importance in 
our early history. Passing rapidly southward he 
rounded Cape Howe, and first noticed the Long 
Beach, but was unable to identify Point Hicks. He 
was now .300 miles from Sydney, and whatever 
remained of the voyage was along an absolutely 
unknown coast. Some important discoveries were 
made at various points, but the most valuable portion 
of his labours was the exploration of Western Port. 
Here he remained thirteen days, during which this 
commodious harbour was carefully examined and 
fully described. A leading object of the voyage had 
been to settle the question of the suspected insularity 
of Van Diemen's Land. Bass had really solved the 
problem without knowing it, for he had passed 
through the strait whicli now bears his name. That 
it was detached from the continent his own bearings 
rendered almost a certainty. To do more was impos- 
sible in the circumstances. He had already been 
seven weeks from Sydney, which had been left with 
only six weeks' provisions. These, though eked out 
by an occasional supply of fish and fowl, were nearly 
exhausted, and the homeward voyage was made on 
the shortest course. During an absence of eleven 
weeks he had examined the coast for GOO miles soutli 
of Port Jackson, the latter half of which had been 
utterly unknown up to the time of this expedition. 



10 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

There still remains for review another memorable 
voyage of discovery, undertaken by Bass and Flinders 
conjointly in the year 1798. The object of this 
expedition was to demonstrate the existence of the 
probable strait and the consequent insularity of 
Van Diemen's land ; and the way it was proposed to 
accomplish this double object was to sail through the 
channel and circumnavigate the island. Bent on this 
adventure Bass and Flinders left Sydney Cove on the 
7th Octolier, in the Norfolk, a good sea-going sloop of 
25 tons burthen. The run over the known waters was 
made purposely in haste, because the time was limited. 
Their cruise in the channel disclosed a large number 
of islands, the haunts of myriads of sea-fowl, 
particularly the sooty petrel, which, though far from 
savoury, served as an article of food. This strange 
bird was found, like the rabbit, to burrow in the 
ground, where it was easily captured in the evening. 
Flinders says it was simply necessary to thrust in the 
whole lenoth of the arm into the hole, whence one 
would be almost certain to bring out a petrel — or a 
snake. The alternative was not a pleasant one, but 
the commander had to husband up the provisions and 
the sailors were not unwilling to run the risk. The 
circumnavigation of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) 
commenced at the northern point, known as Cape 
Portland. Nothing specially remarkable occurred till 
a point was reached which they named Low Head, 
immediately after which the Norfolk entered an arm 
of the sea more than a mile in width. This appeared 



INTRODUCTION. 11 

to be a discovery of sufficient importance to devote 
sixteen days to its exploration. It proved to be the 
embouchure of what is now known as the River 
Tamar, on which Launceston, the second town of the 
island, is built. The discoverers sailed up the estuary, 
following its course for many miles inland. It was 
found to be alive with aquatic fowls, particularly 
black swans, sometimes numbering 500 in a flock. 
This unexpected diversion proved rich sport, and 
afforded a pleasant interlude to the monotony of life 
at sea. But the expedition was not for play, but 
work, and the ship was again upon her course. After 
a short sail to the westward they found tliemselves 
rounding the north-west cape, and with glad hearts 
could perceive the shore trending away for many a 
league to the south. The proljlem was already 
virtually solved. " Mr. Bass and myself," says 
Flinders, "hailed it with joy and mutual congratula- 
tion, as announcing the completion of our long- 
wished-for discovery of a passage into the southern 
Indian Ocean." This fortunate issue of their labours 
marked an epoch both in the history of discovery and 
the progress of international commerce. The cir- 
cuitous route round the south of Van Diemen's Land 
could henceforth be avoided, and in our day the 
intervening strait has become tlie ordinary highway 
for the Australian trade. It being still deemed 
advisable to carry out tlie instructions to the letter, 
the circumnavigation of the island was prosecuted 
with varying interest. In the southern parts some 



12 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

valuable discoveries were made, and errors of previous 
observers corrected. In consequence of unfavourable 
weather the run along the eastern coast was made for 
the most part out of sight of land, but on the Gth of 
January it was found they had completely rounded 
Van Diemen's Land, and so brought their work to an 
end. The time allotted for the expedition having also 
expired, the heroic navigators returned to Sydney, 
bringing the welcome intelligence that doubt was no 
longer possible concerning the insularity of Tasmania, 
and the practicability of the intervening channel as 
a highway of commerce. The merit of this latter 
discovery is almost equally due to both navigators, 
but with a generosity which reflects credit, and is as 
noble as it is rare, Flinders prevailed on Governor 
Hunter to call it Bass' Strait. 

What had now been done for the island of Van 
Diemen's Land by Bass and Flinders conjointly was 
next to be achieved for the continent of Australia by 
Flinders single-handed. Before his time much had 
been done in enterprises of discovery on numerous 
and distant parts of the coast by various commanders 
and by different nations ; but as these eflbrts had been 
conducted under no comprehensive plan, there was no 
continuous line of exploration, and accordingly the 
discoveries hitherto made were known only as dlyecfa 
rtieinhra, lying at wide intervals in the Southern 
Ocean ; but whether they were the extremities of one 
and the same continent, or a cluster of sporadic 
islands, there was not yet sufficient evidence to show. 



IXTRODUCTIOX. 13 

To settle tlii.s (question was tlie true mission of 
Matthew Flinders, and the method he adopted was to 
circumnavigate the whole territory, keeping so near 
tlie land as to have his eye on the raging surf, except 
when the darkness of the night and the wildness of 
tlie weather rendered this purpose impracticable. On 
the very day of his death the printing-press issued a 
record of his labours in a couple of goodly quartos 
entitled " A Voyage to Terra Australis." This name 
was proposed for the new country as a fair and likely 
means of overcoming an acknowledged difficulty. The 
]3utch had Iouq- ag-o discovered the western coast and 
called the country New Holland, whereas the English, 
having performed a similar service for the eastern 
side, gave the name of New South Wales to this and 
the parts adjacent. Herein lay the difficulty ; to call 
the whole continent New Holland seemed unfair to 
the English, whilst it appeared equally unjust to the 
Dutch to give the entire country the name of New 
South Wales. Flinders thought Terra Australis 
would be a reasonable compromise, but ad<led, in an 
ail-important footnote — " Had I permitted myself any 
innovation upon the original term, it would have been 
to convert it into AUSTRALIA, as beino- more agree- 
able to the ear and an assimilation to the other great 
portions of the earth." The suggestion was a most 
fortunate one, in spite of the innovation, and the 
remark shows that, among other and greater obliga- 
tions, we are indeV)ted to this navigator for the name 
of our country. 



14 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

On the 18th of July, 1801, Flinders saile<l from 
Spithead in the Investigator for the circumnavigation 
■of Australia. The. continent was first sighted on the 
6th of December at the old landmark of the Leeuwin, 
which had hitherto been believed to be an island, but 
was now found to be connected with the mainland, 
and henceforth known as Cape Leeuwin. Having 
visited Kino- Georo-e's Sound, the run was next made 
along the Great Australian Bight to Fowler's Bay and 
Nuyt's Archipelago. Other navigators had visited 
this part and examined it with more or less attention. 
All the knowledge o-ained in the next stage had the 
merit of original discoveries. Foremost among these 
were Spencer and St. Vincent Gulfs, with Yorke 
Peninsula intervening, and a large island lying nearly 
opposite. On the latter they found no human in- 
habitants, but marsupials and seals were seen in 
prodigious numbers, and hence the explorers gave it 
the name of Kangaroo Island. Having never met 
with any of Adam's children till now, the denizens of 
the island showed no timidity in the presence of the 
strangers, nor expected any harm ; and this indifference 
was observed to continue much longer with the 
kangaroos than with the seals. Flinders was of 
opinion that the kangaroos mistook their visitors 
for a variety of seals, but the seals soon became too 
knowing to confound them with kansraroos. A little 
sharp experience led both classes of animals to regard 
the intruders as deadly enemies. From that hour 
<;onfidence departed and fear took its place. Shortly 



INTRODUCTION. 15 

after the navigator left this island a very memorable 
incident occurred. A sailor from the mast-head 
reported a white rock in sight. On a nearer view it 
proved to be the sails of a ship — of all things surely 
the last to be expected in this unknown i^uarter of the 
world. Both vessels met in these strange waters, and 
then the apparition turned out to be the French ship 
the Geographe, also on a voyage of discovery, under the 
command of Captain Baudin. The jealous Frenchman 
ill concealed his vexation on meeting with a rival who 
had reaped the harvest of discovery over so many 
leagues of a coast-line which he believed himself to be 
the first to visit. Nor was jealousy his only or his 
worst fault. This unscrupulous navigator had the 
audacity to proceed as an explorer in unknown 
waters, and lay claim to discoveries which the 
Englishman had just made. Flinders, on the contrary, 
acted like the model of integrity which he was. He 
maintained the right of prior discovery in respect to 
all the places he had Ijeen the first t(^ visit, leaving to 
Baudin an undisputed claim on such as he had already 
examined. This is the reason why the names of local- 
ities to the westward of this point are predominantly 
English, while those lying to the east are French. To the 
placid of uieeting, as Ijeing a sort of double discovery. 
Flinders gave the name of Encounter Bay. A minute 
examination of the remaining portions of this coast 
having been rendered unnecessary, in consequence of 
Baudin's cruise, Flinders now pushed on to Bass' 
Strait and entered an inlet which he supposed to be 



16 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Western Port. This conjecture turned out to be a 
mistake, for the place, so far as Flinders was con- 
cerned, proved to be. a new discovery. Subsequently, 
however, he ascertained that the inlet had been visited 
al)Out ten weeks earlier by Lieutenant Murray, who 
had given it the name of Port Phillip. Perceiving- 
the importance of the place, Flinders wisely devoted 
one week to the examination of the bay and the 
exploration of the immediate neighbourhood. Having 
seen so many capabilities of land and water, he put 
on record his opinion that " a settlement would 
probably be made at Port Phillip some time after." 
This hesitating prophecy was uttered as late as the year 
1802, and the locality in question is the site on which 
the great city of Melbourne now stands, with its 
population of 300,000 souls ! Having again stood out 
to sea, the Investigator was soon abreast of Western 
Port, the utmost limit of Bass's discoveries, and now 
the vessel was considered to be in known waters. A 
direct run was accordingly made for Port Jackson, 
and Sydney was reached on tlie 1st of May, 1802. 

Philip Gidley King was at that time governor of 
New South Wales, and Flinders had the good fortune 
to find in him both the courtesy of a gentleman and 
tlie kindness of a friend. Permission having been 
obtained from the Admiralty, the Governor placed the 
Lady Nelson at the service of the indefatigable navi- 
gator, and in every possible way encouraged his 
enterprise. Being thus supplied with all requisites 
which the young settlement could furnish, the 



INTRODUCTION. 17 

Investigator, accompanied by the Lo.dy Nelson as 
tender, resumed the voyage of circumnavigation 
under promising auspices. Since the time of Cook 
the north-eastern coast had been visited in various 
parts by different navigators, but much yet remained 
to lie done before a correct map could be drawn up, 
and Flinders had it among his instructions to supply 
the deficiencies of his predecessors wherever that 
might be possible. Having taken the trouble to find 
out what portions of the coast Cook had passed in the 
night, he made it his business to keep a sharp look- 
out on such localities, and in this way became the 
discoverer of Curtis Bay and other inlets of consider- 
able importance. He was able also to correct many 
of Cook's observations, and being provided with 
better instruments, supplied, in not a few cases, the 
shortcomings of several other predecessors. But his 
most valuable services in this quarter were his 
observations on the Great Barrier Reef, which for 
more than a thousand miles runs nearly parallel with 
the northern coast, and had hitherto been viewed as 
the terror of navigators. To pierce this obstruction 
and get out into the open sea was an undertaking of 
so much intricacy that seamen were accustomed ta 
call it " threading the needle." Even Cook, prince of 
navigators as he was, failed in the attempt. Flinders 
persevered till he discovered a safe gap in the mighty 
rampart, and showed succeeding navigators an easy 
escape from a grave difficulty. An outside course 
was then followed to the extreme north. Ha\'ing 



18 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

now passed through the Endeavour Strait, Flinders 
came to anchor in the Gulf of Carpentaria, where he 
found a new scene for his energies and a rich field of 
discovery awaiting him. 

The Gulf of Carpentaria had been early visited by 
the Dutch navigators, but its exploration — if this word 
could be applied at all — had been conducted in a 
desultory and piecemeal fashion. Its turn had come 
at last, and the same painstaking service was to be 
rendered here which had made the south and eastern 
coasts so correctly known. Flinders found the gulf 
defined on the chart by a vague and hesitating coast- 
line, which turned out, in most cases, to be more 
imaginary than according to nature, and he left it so 
accurately described that his successors have been 
able to add little to his careful investigations. In this 
patient research four months were consumed, during 
which period he examined the whole coast from end 
to end, including Arnheim Bay. The three sea- 
boards of Australia, south, east, and north, had now 
been explored in the Investigator. It need not, 
therefore, occasion surprise to hear of her showing 
signs of decay. This matter had to be attended to 
before commencing the survey of the western coast, 
which was meant to be as thorough as that of the 
other three had been. After making a call at Timor 
with despatches, a rapid run was made for Port 
Jackson by the western coast, but out of sight of 
land. Cape Leeuwin, the point from which the circum- 
navigation had started, was reached on the 13th of 



INTRODUCTION. 19 

May, 1803, and thus the heroic undertaking was 
virtually accomplished. Shipwreck, tragic sufferings, 
and diabolical treachery cut off the possibility of any 
further exploration of the western coast by Matthew 
Flinders. 

The work which was thus left imj)erfect through a 
long series of misfortunes was afterwards resumed, 
and very satisfactorily completed, by another dis- 
tinguished navigator. Captain, and subsequently Ad- 
miral King. He played a prominent part in this 
period of our history, and was much beloved for his 
sterling qualities both of head and heart. He made 
four voyages to the western coast, in every one of 
which excellent service was rendered to the cause of 
exploration. The following interesting abstract of his 
discoveries has been kindly furnished by his son, the 
Hon. P. G. King, M.L.C. :— 

" On the 4th of February, 1817, Lieutenant Philip 
Parker King, of the Royal Navy, the only son of 
Captain Philip Gidley King, the third Governor of 
New South Wales, was appointed by the Lords Com- 
missioners of the Admiralty to carry out a survey of 
the then unexplored parts of the ' coasts of New 
South Wales,' which comprised from Arnheim Bay, 
near the western entrance of the Gulf of Carpentaria, 
westward, and southward as far as the South-West 
Cape, including the opening or deep bay called Van 
Diemen's Bay, and the cluster of islands called the 
Rosemary Islands, and the inlets behind them. He 
was also to examine the coast between Cape Leeuwin 



20 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

and Cape Gasselin in M. De Freycinet's chart, and to 
complete the circumnavigation of the ' continent.' 

" The Governor . of the colony was directed ta 
place at his disposal any suitable vessel for his 
purpose, and accordingly the Mermaid, a cutter 
recently arrived from India, of 84 tons burden, was 
placed under his charge. Mr. F. Bedwell and Mr. 
John Sej)timus Roe (afterwards Surveyor-General of 
Western Australia) were his assistants, and Mr. Allan 
Cunningham, the botanical collector, specially ap- 
pointed by Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist of Cook's 
expedition. The chief of the Broken Bay tribe of 
aborigines, ' Boon-ga-ree,' accompanied the little ex- 
pedition, and much service was obtained from him in 
the various interviews with the natives. 

" Taking advantage of the westerly monsoon, the 
Mermaid commenced her work, leaving Port Jackson 
on the 22nd of December, 1817, and, proceeding by 
Bass' Strait, arrived off the North- West Cape on 
the 10th of February. The favourable wind lasted 
till the beofinnino- of March, when the south-east 
monsoon obliged the vessel to be worked to the 
eastward, for the purpose of running before it on her 
work. Having examined the coast and islands as far 
as Depuch Bay, the survey was resumed at the 
Goulburn" Islands. Port Essington was examined ; 
also. Van Diemen's Gulf and the Alligator Eiver. A 
survey was made of the northern shore of Melville 
Island and Apsley Strait, till the 31st of May, when, 
provisions drawing to an end and water failing, the 



INTRODUCTION. 21 

little vessel stretched across 'the Great Australian 
Strait ' to Timor, and anchored off the Dutch settle- 
ment of Coepang on the 4th of June. On the 19th 
Montebelle and Barrow Islands were surveyed. 
Dysentery now attacked the ship's company, and 
further work had to be given up for this. Lieutenant 
King's first voyage, which, lasting 31 i weeks, ter- 
minated in his return to Port Jackson on the 29th 
of July. 

" The winds not proving favourable for the pas- 
sage through Torres Strait by the eastern coast till 
February in the following year, 1819, a voyage was 
made in the interval to Van Diemen's Land, and a 
survey was made of Macquarie Harbour, on the west 
coast, and a departure was taken for the second 
voyage on the 8th of May, during which a running 
survey was made, including an examination of the 
entrance of Port Macquarie, from the entrance of the 
inner passage through the Barrier Reefs at Breaksea 
Spit to the Endeavour River, thence northerly as far 
as Cape York, A stretch was now made across the 
Gulf of Carpentaria, and various parts of the coast to 
the westward were examined, and Cambridge Gulf 
and Admiralty Gulf were discovered and surveyed. 
A second visit had to be made to Coepang to obtain 
supplies, to enable the vessel to retui'n to Port 
Jackson, where they arrived on the 12th December, 
after an absence of 80 weeks. During this voyage 
a survey had been made of 540 miles of the 
northern coast, in addition to oOO on the pre\ious 



22 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

expedition, as well as on this occasion making a 
running survey on the eastern coast of 900 miles. 

" The third expedition comprised a further survey 
of the 900 miles just alluded to, and of the north-west 
coast in various parts. It may be noteworthy that 
the cutter was rigged on this occasion with rope made 
in New South Wales from New Zealand flax (pJior- 
iniiuin tenax). The third voyage was completed on 
the 9th of December, 1820, having occupied a period 
of 25^ weeks. 

" For the fourth voyage it was found necessary to 
purchase a larger vessel, and, accordingly, Captain 
King, who had now received his promotion, found 
himself in command of a brig of 170 tons, which was 
thereafter called the Batliiirst. The coast north- 
wards to Torres Strait was further examined. The 
Mauritius was visited, and the west coast examined 
from Rottnest Island to the Buccaneers' Archipelago. 
The BatJturst returned to Port Jackson on the 2oth 
of April, 1822, after an absence of 344 days. Captain 
King was then ordered by the Admiralty to return 
to England, to prepare his charts and journals for 
publication. 

" It is impossible in such a short resume oi his 
voyages to allude to the numerous and interesting 
interviews with the aborigines which he fell in with, 
further than to state that they were always con- 
ducted with a desire to establish friendly relations. 
Captain King's services were approved by the 
Admiralty, as he was entrusted with another com- 



INTKODUCTION. 23 

mand of two vessels, to survey the southern coasts of 
South America." 

From 1839 to 1845 the survey of the north-western 
coasts was continued with the Beagle, first under the 
command of Captain Wickham, and subsequently of 
Lieutenant Stokes. Soon after arriving from Eng- 
land, in the close of 1837, the coast was examined 
from Roebuck Bay to King's Sound, during which 
cruise the Fitzroy River was discovered and navi- 
gated for 90 miles from its entrance. In another 
voyage to the north the coast was explored in the 
vicinity of Port Essington, which was found to be a 
spacious harbour. Whilst examining Clarence Strait 
they made the important discovery of the Adelaide 
River, which was subsequently described by Mr. J. 
M'Douall Stuart as one of the best possible situations 
for a new settlement. Port Darwhi was also discovered 
during this voyage. The Beagle now proceeded to 
Cambridge Gulf, and discovered the Victoria and 
Fitzmaurice Rivers. The former was navigated for 
50 miles, and rather hastily described as one of the 
finest rivers of Australia. The run was now made to 
Swan River, and thence, after a cruise among the 
islands, to Port Jackson. In June, 1841, the Beagle 
again left Sydney, to examine the southern coast of 
the Gulf of Carpentaria. Some important discoveries 
were made during this cruise. A fine river, which the 
explorers named the Flinders, was found, and na\i- 
gated for 30 miles. On the 1st of August they 
discovered the Albert. Having ascended to a splendid 



24 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

sheet of water, which was named Hope Reach, they 
found themselves in the midst of enchanting scenery, 
which Captain Stokes thus describes : — " It was as 
glorious a prospect as could greet tlie eye. A mag- 
nificent sheet of water lay before us in one unbroken 
expanse, resembling a smooth translucent lake. Its 
gentle repose harmonized exquisitely with the slender, 
motionless boughs of the drooping gums, palms, and 
acacias that clustered on the banks, and dipped their 
feathery foliage in the limpid stream that, like a 
polished mirror, bore within its bosom the image of the 
graceful vegetation by which it was bordered. The 
report of our guns, as they dealt destruction among 
the quails that here abounded, rolled for the first 
time alono- the waters of the Albert, breakino- in on 
the hush of stillness that appeared to reign over all 
like the presence of a spirit. The country which 
stretched away from either bank was an extensive 
plain, covered with long, coarse grass, above which was 
occasionally seen the head of a kangaroo, listening 
with its acute ear to our approach." It was not 
possible to ascend much higher than this reach, on 
account of the fallen timber wdiich blocked the 
channel. The explorers then landed on immense 
plains, which, perhaps with too hasty judgment, they 
named the Plains of Promise. During this voyage 
they had examined the Gulf coast for 200 miles, 
making the discovery of twenty inlets and two large 
rivers. 



THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 25 



CHAPTER I. 

THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. 

Persons who have yet to make their acquaintance 
with the early history of New South Wales will learn 
with surprise that the colony had been founded for 
almost a quarter of a century before the Blue Moun- 
tain barrier was crossed. For so long a period it was 
scarcely possible to proceed more than forty miles 
from Sydney in any direction. Many a despairing- 
look must those early settlers have cast on the 
frowning ramparts of the range, which, leaving only a 
narrow margin between itself and the sea, threatened 
to convert the cradle of the colony into a Procrustes' 
bed, to which its dimensions would have to conform in 
the future, as they had done in the past. This sense 
of confinement was the harder to l)ear tliat it was met 
with in a land of freedom ; and many a time did the 
caged eagfle dash itself with fruitless rao-e against the 
bars of its prison. A record of the unsuccessful 
attempts to get beyond the main range would form a 
heroic chapter of our history, and one, too, of which 
we might well feel proud, if there is any truth in the 
saying that in great undertakings it is glorious even 
to fail. Within four months after the arri\al of the 
" first fleet " our annals present a picture of Governor 
Phillip and party struggling laboriously westward to 



26 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the gorges of the mountains. In 1793 Lieutenant 
Dawes, with Captains Trench and Paterson, put forth 
equally persistent, but just as unsuccessful, efforts to 
scale the sandstone cliffs and reach the interior. 
During this year, also, H. Hacking, of the Sirius, 
with two companions, penetrated twenty miles into 
the mountains, passing over eighteen or nineteen 
ridges or gullies, and returned to the settlement after 
an absence of seven days. Three years later George 
Bass, the famous, though unprofessional, navigator 
and discoverer of the strait which still bears his 
name, did all that marvels of perseverance could 
accomplish in the hope of forcing a passage by way 
of the valley of the Grose. Taking a party on 
whose courage he could rely, Bass had his feet armed 
with iron hooks that he might scale the cliffs, after the 
mamier of a spider, and made his men lower him with 
ropes into the outlying chasms. But it was all in 
vain. After fifteen days of heroic endeavour, he 
returned to Sydney, bringing the cold comfort of 
impossibility of transit. Bass assured his fellow- 
colonists that a passage over the Blue Mountains did 
not exist, even for a person on foot. It is possible 
that this strong statement was disproved almost 
immediately after. A tradition, not too well authen- 
ticated, speaks of a convict of the name of Wilson 
actually crossing the mountains in 1799. With 
another advance we eet better footino- and read of a 
Lieutenant Barrellier making a similar attempt, but 
onlv to add another name to the list of failures. Two 



THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. 27 

years later an effoi't of a more promising character 
was made by a botanist of the name of Cayley, who 
pushed his way into the heart of the mountains as far 
as the present Numantia, where he erected a cairn of 
stones to mark the furthest limit of exploration to 
the west. He left his rude monument without a name, 
but Governor Macquarie, in a sportive mood, called it 
" Cayley 's Repulse," and by this brand it is still remem- 
bered by old colonists. The late Dr. Lang thus refers 
to it in his "History" : — " The place was pointed out to 
me by a respectable settler of the Bathurst district on 
crossino- the mountains for the first time in the vear 
1826. It is certainly a most remarkable locality, 
nothing being visible in any direction but immense 
masses of weather-beaten sandstone rocks, towering 
over each other in all the sublimit}' of desolation ;. 
quite a deep chasm, intersecting a lofty ridge covered 
with blasted trees, seems to present an insurmountable 
barrier to all further progress." 

At this outpost discovery appears to ha^■e stood still 
for a considerable period. If further attempts were 
entered on in the succeeding years very little has been 
said about them. The settlers must have made up 
their minds for tlie time being to submit to the 
inevitable and reconcile themselves to the situation 
with the best consolation they could find. But a 
pressing emergency assailed them before long which 
aroused the slumbering energy and led to another 
assault on the western ramparts. A continuous 
drought had succeeded equally disastrous Hoods in 



28 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the Hawkesbury. The live stock of the settlement 
had by this time increased to 65,121 sheep, 21,343 
horned cattle, and 1,891 horses, and all these had to 
be kept during a season of drought on an area of 
80 miles by 40, the greater part of which in the 
best of times was hopelessly sterile. In this trying 
situation it became very manifest that one of two 
alternatives had to be faced — either the Blue Moun- 
tain barrier must be forced at all hazards and a way 
found into the interior, or, should this prove to be 
absolutely impossible, the surplus stock would have 
to be removed from the colony, if they were not to 
perish from starvation. The crisis was a serious one, 
but it happily called forth an effectual remedy. Three 
most capable men now came to the front to scale the 
mountain ramparts from which so many assailants 
had already been cast down ; and now, at last, fortune 
was pleased to smile on the enterprise. The foremost 
of this memorable trio was Gregory Blaxland, a 
native of Kent, and born of an old English family in 
1779. The second on the expedition was William 
Lawson, who was formerly lieutenant in the 102nd 
regiment, but had latterly retired to " Veteran Hall," 
his own country seat near Prospect. These two 
leaders, on whom the whole responsibility devolved, 
were joined by a third person, then wholly unknown, 
but who afterwards made for himself a name not to 
be forgotten in New South Wales. This was the 
embryo patriot and statesman, William Charles 
Wentworth. Blaxland was now in his 35th year, 



THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. 29 

Lawson about the same age, but Wentworth was- 
barely out of bis 'teens, and professedly joined the 
expedition in a freak of youthful adventure. 

This memorable expedition, consisting of the three 
parties named, together with four attendants, a few 
pack horses, and several hunting dogs, left Blaxland's 
farm, at South Creek, on the 11th of May, 1813. 
The same afternoon the Nepean was crossed at Enui 
Ford, and the first encampment made the same even- 
ing at the foot of the mountains which had so lono- 
marked the western boundary of the settlement. 
The plan they resolved to follow was to adhere to 
the dividing ridge or watershed between the Warra- 
gumby and Grose Rivers, being careful to head all 
the tributaries departing to the right or to the left. 
This determination proved the secret of their ultimate 
success, and put the explorers in possession of the 
only key to the situation. Next morning the Emu 
Plains were left behind and the ascent of the 
mountains commenced. The high land of Grose Head 
is noted as being about seven miles to the north- 
east, and the place where the ascent began must have 
been considerably to the north of the present Zig-zag, 
and near the starting point of the original Bathurst- 
road. Having scaled the steepest part of the ridge, 
here about 800 feet high, the travellers were careful 
to head all the watercourses on both sides, in the hope 
of finding that the highest ground would also be 
continuous. The first day's progress amounted to a 
little over three miles, generally in a south-western 



30 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

•direction, and the night's encampment was made at 
the head of a deep gully, where a small supply of 
water was found in the rock. Next mornino- a start 
was made about 9 o'clock. After proceeding about a 
mile they had the good luck to hit upon a large 
tract of forest land. Here was discovered the track 
of a European, who had marked the trees. This belt 
of open country ceased about two miles ahead, at 
which point further progress was obstructed by 
impenetrable brushwood. The remainder of the day 
having been consumed in fruitless efforts to round 
this obstacle, the night was spent in the former 
position. Next morning the axes were early at work 
hewing a track through the scrub, which could 
neither be avoided nor penetrated. This step-by-step 
progress had to be endured for five miles, until a 
more open patch was reached. Nor was this an 
exceptional case. A great part of the route over the 
mountains had in like manner to be laid open by the 
axe, thus making it necessary to travel three times 
over the same ground. First, the track had to be cut 
out ; next, they had to return for the horses ; and 
then the real advance was made for another stase. 
On the fifth day the brushwood proved so formidable 
that their progress did not exceed two miles. The 
following day was Sunday, and the explorers enjoyed 
the Sabbath rest as much as any toil-worn slave that 
•ever breathed. On the 17th the horses were loaded 
with a supply of grass, as the country was becoming 
still more inhospitable, and an advance of seven miles 



THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. 81 

was made through a track which the axe had laid 
open. But the windings of the watershed now 
appeared interminable, and the real progress, if 
measured in a straight line, was small indeed. Yet it 
was only by this tedious course that the mountains 
could be crossed, if crossed at all. The locality of the 
next encampment was destitute of water, and what 
could be obtained in the vicinity had to be carried up 
a precipitous clili' 600 feet in height. The horses had 
to shift as they best could for that evening. To 
aggravate matters, if such a thing were possible, a 
more serious obstacle now rose in front of the in- 
trepid explorers. The ridge, which was their only 
hope, contracted to a width of 20 feet, and appeared 
to terminate in a huge rock rising 30 feet directly in 
front. But perseverance, which overcomes all things, 
Ijrought them safely over this barrier too. Wednes- 
day, the 19th, was a red-letter day, for they now 
reached the summit of the second elevation of the 
main range. The site also was suitable for a camp, 
and offered a good supply of grass and water. Next 
day a five-mile stage was accomplished, and the camp 
formed on the margin of a lagoon with a small stream 
of water running through it. Here the horses were 
left till the men had cut another day's march through 
the scrub. Soon after the ridge began to widen, but 
proved to be more rocky than ever. From the 22nd 
to the 28th the advance was made at much the same 
rate and without any incidents calling for particular 
remark. At last the pioneers had the inexpressible 



32 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

satisfaction of finding themselves on the western fall 
of the mountains. But the slopes facing the interior 
were exceedingly rugged, and a practicable descent 
was nearly despaired of. After much difficulty a 
barely feasible one was discovered, by means of 
which the party got clear of the mountains and 
found themselves in a lovely valley, afterwards 
called the Vale of Clwydd, and now well known as. 
the site of the town of Hartley. 

Now, at last, the Blue Mountains had been crossed, 
but the pioneers continued their journey a short 
distance further, to make sure that every obstacle 
had been overcome. After leaving the range they 
advanced two miles to the westward on the same day, 
and encamped on the bank of a fine stream, probably 
what was afterwards known as the Rivulet, and now, 
by an absurd blunder in spelling, the Biver Lett. 
The last encampment was made on another brook,, 
since called Farmer's Creek, but not from any con- 
nection with the farming interest. Here Sir Thomas 
Mitchell lost his favourite horse "Farmer," and 
considered the event of sufficient importance to have 
its remembrance preserved in the name of the creek. 
From this outpost of the expedition Blaxland went 
forth on the last afternoon of May, 1813, and ascended 
a neighbouring hill, from the top of which he beheld a 
magnificent expanse of pastoral country, sufficient, in 
his reckoning, to meet the wants of the colony for 
thirty years to come. This l;)eing the extreme point 
reached in this enterprise. Governor Macquarie paid 



THE PIONEERS OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. 33 

the leader a well-merited compliment in associating 
the name of Blaxland with this memorable peak. 

The object of the journey being now happily 
attained, it was judged unnecessary to travel further. 
Twenty days had been spent in forcing a passage 
through the formidable mountain barrier, and the 
progress had been so slow that not much more than 
three miles per day had been averaged. The actual 
distance travelled along this tortuous rid^e was 
reckoned at fifty miles, and eight more had been 
added on the other side. The return journey calls for 
no detailed remarks. The explorers were greatly 
fatigued, in very poor health, and their clothes had 
been torn to rags. Their outward track had been 
too laboriously hewn through the brushwood to be 
difficult to find on their return. The colonists at 
Sydney hailed with welcome the tidings of this signal 
success, and lost no time in turning the wished-for 
discovery to practical account. 



34 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER II. 

SURVEYOR Evans's discovery of the lachlan and 

MACQUARIE RIVERS AND THE BATHURST PLAINS. 

Delighted with the success which had rewarded the 
Blue Mountain enterprise. Governor Macquarie took 
prompt action in following up this conquest over 
nature's barrier. A new and very capable man was 
now ready to enter the field. This was Mr. George 
W. Evans, who at that time filled the office of 
Deputy-Surveyor. His name occupies an honourable 
place in our early annals. It were to be wished 
we had fuller particulars of this first effort of his in 
the exploration of the colony than are now to hand. 
The following brief sketch embodies all that is really 
known on this subject : — He was absent only seven 
weeks on his first journey, and in 21 days hud 
penetrated 98 miles beyond the most advanced camp 
of his predecessors. This new explorer crossed the 
Nepean at Emu Ford on the 20th of November, 1813, 
and, six days after, arrived at the termination of the 
journey of the Blue Mountain pioneers. Proceeding 
westward, he crossed a well- grassed but broken and 
rugged country, which was subsequently called the 
Clarence Hilly Range. By the 30th he had reached 
the dividing ridge which forms the watershed be- 
tween the eastern and western streams. Soon after 
this he discovered, in a well-grassed valley, the head 



SURVEYOR EVANS. 35 

waters of a stream that abounded in fish, and hence 
received the name of the Fish River. He continued 
to trace it, winding its course through a fine country, 
suitable for agricultural and grazing purposes, till the 
7th of December, when it was joined by another 
stream, which he named the Campbell. To the river 
which was thus formed by these tributaries he gave 
the name of the Macquarie, after the Governor, but 
the natives called it the Wambool. Continuing on 
the lead of the Macquarie, he followed it through rich 
alluvial land — the Bathurst Plains — destitute of 
timber, but abounding in game. During the whole 
journey Evans met with only six natives, but saw the 
smoke of their encampments in many places. He 
returned to Sydney on the 8th of January, 1814. 
After a short interval he was ao-ain sent out to the 
same district, with a small party and one month's 
provisions. During this second journey Limestone 
Creek was discovered and explored ; but its chief 
result was the discovery of another large river, which 
he called the Lachlan, after the christian name of the 
Governor. The Lachlan and the Macquarie formed 
an enigma to the early geographers. Their sources 
were in the same neighbourhood, but both flowed 
towards the interior and kept diverging from one 
another during every mile of their known course. 

The proper sequel to Evans's discoveries was the 
formation of a road over the mountains to Bathurst 
Plains. This was done in the same year by gangs of 
convicts under the command of one Cox, in an 



36 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

incredibly short space of time, as tradition reports. 
This road, 100 miles in length, was formally opened 
in May, 1815, by the Governor and Mrs. Macquarie, 
who rode the whole distance on horseback. Bathurst 
was then laid out, and has ever since continued to be 
one of the most flourishing places in the colony, as 
might well be expected from a town which commands 
50,000 acres of first-class land within a radius of ten 
miles. 



OXLEY. 37 



CHAPTER III. 

oxley's expeditions to the lachlan and 
macquarie rivees. 

The passion for exploration was not yet allowed to 
slumber. Deputy-Surveyor Evans's discovery of the 
Bathurst Plains, with two promising rivers, only 
whetted the desire for further knowledge. It was 
presumed that the Lachlan and the Macquarie united 
their waters in some part of their course and finally 
disembogued in an unknown part of the eastern 
coast. But all this was mere conjecture, which 
required to be cleared up by actual exploration. A 
new expedition was accordingly set on foot by the 
Governor, and a fit person appointed to the post 
of leader. This was the Surveyor-General, John 
Oxley, B.N., who appears to have been both an able 
and amiable man, combining the fortiter in re with 
the suaviter in oiioclo. Allan Cunningham, who 
was his close associate, always spoke of Oxley in 
terms of admiration and endearment. Amono; other 
meritorious services he had the credit of giving to 
New South Wales the first map of her immense 
territories, a task for which he was well qualified by 
extensive colonial travel in his official capacity, 

I. 

This expedition, as finally organized under the 
conduct of Oxley, consisted of Allan Cunningham, as 



38 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

king's botanist, Charles Frazer, as colonial botanist, 
William Parr, as mineraloo^ist, and eight others. On 
the 20th of April, '1817, all the members of the 
expedition met at a store depot on the bank of the 
Lachlan River, which had been fixed as the point of 
departure. The details of their weary wanderings 
have been recorded only at too great length in 
Oxley's published journals. The author in the com- 
mencement of his work apologized for the uneventful 
character of the narrative, and if this was necessary 
when enthusiasm for exploration was at fever heat, 
the reader of the present day is not likely to consider 
it superfluous. The fault, however, did not lie with 
the writer, but is to be attributed to the unin- 
teresting materials which form the staple of his 
bulky volumes. The country he had to traverse soon 
turned out to be singularly tame and tedious. The 
sea coast, with its never-ending scenes of beauty, had 
been left far behind ; the mountain ranges, with 
their vast and varied grandeur, had sunk below the 
horizon, and in place of both were found only the 
dull and dreary plains of the Australian bush. Were 
it not that the whole of the country was new, this 
record of daily travel would read like the diary of a 
conscientious but uneventful life. It will be desir- 
able, therefore, to touch only on the chief points of the 
narrative. 

Starting from the point previously indicated, the 
party proceeded on their travels along the southern 
bank of the river. Wild fowl appeared in large 



OXLEY. 39 

numbers, offering excellent sport. The natives also 
were met with more frequently than would have been 
agreeable had they been disposed to be troublesome, 
which, fortunately, they were not. The one thing 
which surprised the explorers was the behaviour 
of the Lachlan, which, after showing itself a goodly 
river of a hundred feet in width, threatened to end 
its career in a most undignified fashion. This it very 
soon did, as they believed, by resolving itself into a 
succession of marshes, to which they gave the name 
of the Lachlan Swamps. Being unable to trace the 
river any further, Oxley now resolved to abandon 
the enterprise and return home by a different route. 
He made up his mind, accordingly, to make for the 
southern coast, which he hoped to strike about Cape 
Northumberland, and thence reach Sydney by sea. 
In this direction the course was steered till the 4th 
of July, when further progress became extremely 
difficult, from the sterility of the country and almost 
interminable forests of mallee, which Oxley, in a play 
of the imagination, named the Euryalean scrub. 
At last it became apparent to all that they would 
have to return to the Lachlan, through the want of 
water, if for no other cause, and this was now 
done. The retrograde movement was singularly 
unfortunate. Had they proceeded only twenty miles 
further the Murrumbidgee would have been dis- 
covered, with its never-failing volume of water. 
But, in their ignorance, it was otherwise determined, 
and a laurel lost to the wreath of this distinofuished 



40 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

explorer. Nineteen weary days were consumed on 
this return journey, at the end of which the Lachlan 
was reached, a long distance below the swamps from 
which it had emerged, and was flowing in a strong 
current confined within high banks. Water fowl were 
again seen and causjht in abundance. Fish also 
were plentiful, some of them — the " Murray cod " — 
weighing sixty or seventy pounds. This good 
fortune induced the explorers to continue their 
journey down the river, in the hope of reaching 
some satisfactory result. This expectation was not 
realized. They were again landed among swamps 
and marshes, which were now regarded for certain 
as the termination of the Lachlan, and the exploration 
was conducted no further in this direction. Here, for 
the second time, Oxley narrowly missed discovering 
the Murrumbidgee, from which he was distant not 
more than two days' journey. The Lachlan had now 
been followed for about 500 miles from the place 
where the expedition had started, and it was resolved 
to proceed no further. A return was now made to 
Bathurst in an oblique direction, with the intention 
of striking the Macquarie at a point considerably 
below the place where it had first been seen by 
Evans. Some important discoveries were made 
during this cross-country cut. The Elizabeth River, 
Bell's River, and the Rivulet were met with and 
named. Most important of all was the discovery 
of Wellington Valley, an extensive tract of the finest 
country, well suited to all the purposes of civilized 



OXLEY. 41 

man, and diversified with scenery of great beauty. 
After travelling 150 miles from the lower swamps of 
the Lachlan the Macquarie was struck about 50 miles 
below the place where it had been seen by Evans. It 
was a river of good promise, and Oxley was strongly 
inclined to follow it, as he had done the Lachlan, 
but the slender remnant of provisions forbade the 
attempt. The expedition, therefore, made for 
Bathurst, which was reached on the 29th of August, 
after an absence of nineteen weeks. The distance 
travelled from start to finish amounted to 1,200 
miles. 

II. 

Undeterred by the difficulties incurred on the 
Lachlan, Oxley, during the following year (1818), 
engaged in a similar expedition for the exploration of 
the lower course of the Macquarie. Tracing the 
Tinknovv^n stream to the westward, he found himself 
led out of the region of hills into a country presenting 
a dead and monotonous level. Here the river began 
to lose its well-defined course and to spread its waters 
over the dreary expanse. With great difiiculty, he 
succeeded in distino-uishino; the river from the lake 
for a short distance onward, after wliich further effort 
in a wide waste of water was to no purpose. Now, at 
last, he lost sight of land and trees altogether, though 
again able to discern the current of the Macquarie in 
a stream three feet deep winding in and out among 
thickets of reeds, which here grew to a gigantic 



42 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

height. Oxley conjectured he had now reached the 
commencement of an inland sea — a phantom which 
long played fast and loose with those who loved to 
speculate on the mysterious regions of Central 
Australia. In this pet fancy the explorer, like many 
other theorists, was quite mistaken, for this delusive 
expanse of water was not even the termination of the 
Macquarie River. Ten years later Captain Sturt 
succeeded in tracing it for 6Q miles further, and found 
it ending its dubious career in the River Darling. 

Two courses were now open to the expedition — 
either to return home disappointed, or strike out in a 
new direction and make fresh discoveries. The latter 
alternative was adopted. During an earlier part of 
the journey their attention had been drawn to a lofty 
range of dark mountains lying athwart the northern 
horizon. The march was now towards this prominent 
landmark of the unknown domain of nature. Before 
it was reached, and after the expedition had been out 
for about two months, progress was arrested by the 
discovery of a river running in high flood. This was 
named the Castlereagh, and a safe passage was 
obtained after a short delay. There remained a weary 
journey to the range which had so long loomed in the 
distance, and was reached after much difiiculty, owing-^ 
to the boggy character of the ground. One of the prin- 
cipal elevations was ascended, from which a magnificent 
prospect was obtained, and the height ascertained to 
be about 3,000 feet. Oxley gave to this chain the 
name of the Arbuthnot Range, but it is still most 



OXLEY. 43 

generally known as the Warrambungle Mountains. 
The course of the expedition was now directed 
toward the east, in the hope of ultimately reaching 
the coast somewhere northward of Sydney. This 
purpose was rewarded by the discovery of the Liver- 
pool Plains, the most valuable find that had hitherto 
fallen to the lot of any explorer. This is a splendid 
area of first-class land, consisting of level country 
embracing about 17,000 square miles, supposed ta 
have formed in past ages the bed of a small inland 
sea. The next discovery was the Namoi River, called 
after Sir E-obert Peel by Oxley, but it is still best- 
known under the native designation. After traversing 
the Liverpool Plains the expedition entered upon the 
very dissimilar New England country, and experienced 
fatiguing travel in mountain ranges, which was 
rewarded by the discovery of another river, named the 
Apsley. One of the loftiest peaks in this region was 
ascended by Oxley, and found to be about G,000 feet 
in height. From the crown of this mountain giant he 
was gratified with a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, and 
very fittingly gave to his position the name of Mount 
Seaview, Shortly after the descent from this monarch 
of the mountains another important river was met 
with. Oxley called it the Hastings, in memory of the 
notorious Governor-General of India, and here, for 
once, the name has stuck. This river was now 
followed to the sea and the entrance named Port 
Macquarie, hitherto unknown to Europeans. The 
exploring party, having now done their work so well. 



44 THE AUSTKALIAN EXPLORERS. 

resolved to make for home by travelling along the 
coast. Difficulties undreamt of were encountered in 
the indentation of the shore and the estuaries of the 
rivers, one of which, the Manning, was now first 
discovered. These obstacles might well have proved 
insuperable but for their good luck in meeting with a 
boat, probably the relic of a wreck, which was 
stranded and half-buried in the sand. The welcome 
treasure was carried on their shoulders for 90 miles, 
and put to use in crossing estuaries as they came in 
the way. With this unexpected help in time of need 
the party were enabled to reach Port Stephens. This 
harbour had been discovered by Surveyor Grimes 
and was now well known. Thence conveyance was 
obtained by sea to Newcastle, where the toil-worn 
adventurers found themseves once more within the 
pale of civilization. 



HUME AND HOVELL. 45 



CHAPTER IV. 

HUME AND HOVELL's EXPEDITION FROM LAKE GEORGE 
TO PORT PHILLIP. 

Sir Thomas Brisbane succeeded to the Government of 
New South Wales on the 1st of December, 1821. The 
work of exploration, which had received such extra- 
ordinary impulse under Macquarie, was taken up 
with corresponding zeal by the new Governor. The 
southern limit of discovery at this period stood some- 
where about Lake George ; and public attention was 
largely directed to the unknown country lying beyond 
this outpost. The passion for exploration in this 
quarter had been discouraged, but not suppressed, by 
a rash and unwarranted statement made by Oxley 
in the journal he had given to the world. " We had 
demonstrated beyond a doubt," said he, " that no river 
could fall into the sea between Cape Otway and 
Spencer's Gulf — at least, none deriving its waters from 
the eastern coast — and that the country south of the 
parallel of 34 deg., and west of the meridian 147 deg. 
30 min. was uninhabitable and useless for all the pur- 
poses of civilized man." This singularly unfortunate 
assertion should have been affirmative instead of 
negative, for the principal rivers of the continent 
enter the sea within the limits here specified, and 
some of the larcjest tracts of jjood land in Australia 
are enclosed by these lines of longitude and latitude. 



46 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Governor Brisbane, fortunately, was not convinced by 
this so-called demonstration, and felt disposed to have 
the question practically tested. "With this object in 
view, he proposed to the late Alexander Berry, him- 
self no mean explorer, to land a small party of con- 
victs at Cape Howe or Wilson's Promontory, with 
instructions, under promise of reward, to find their 
way overland to Lake George as they best could, and 
ultimately to Sydney. Mr. Berry cordially fell in 
with the proposal, and recommended as leader of the 
party a young man who had already made his mark 
as a bushman. The latter, however, demurred to the 
plan of the expedition, wishing it to start from Lake 
George and work its way overland to Western Port, 
in Bass' Strait. This suggestion was adopted without 
scruple or delay, and the offer of his services gladly 
accepted. 

This young man's name was Hamilton Hume. He 
was a native of the colony, having been born at Parra- 
matta in 1797. In those early days educational 
facilities were few, and it fell out from this cause that 
Hume owed all the learning he possessed to the 
instructions of his kind mother. In after life he was 
more indebted to his instincts than to his education. 
A bushman, like a poet, is born, not made ; and Hume, 
before leaving his 'teens, proved that genius for 
exploration was part of his nature. In company with 
his brother, and when but fifteen years of age, he 
discovered the district of Berrima, and shortly after 
completely explored that part of the country. In 



HUME AND HOVELL. 47 

1817 lie passed the southern boundary of the known 
territory, and, in conjunction with Surveyor Meehan, 
made the discovery of Lake Bathurst and the Goul- 
burn Plains. Again, in the year 1821, he proceeded 
further out, along with several mates, and came upon 
the Yass Plains. All these discoveries, however valu- 
able for stockholders, may be regarded as but tentative 
essays in the work of exploration in comparison with 
what was to follow ; yet they must have been highly 
advantageous in qualifying Hume for the arduous 
expedition on which his fame must chiefly rest. 

While the necessary preparations for this under- 
taking were afoot, Mr. Berry intimated to the 
Governor that another person was desirous of being 
associated with Hume in the position of leader. This 
was Captain Hovell, of Minto, a retired shipmaster. 
Having been a professional navigator, he was pre- 
sumed to be able to reckon longitude and latitude, an 
accomplishment which the defectively-educated Hume, 
with all his bushmanship, did not possess. The two 
men being thus furnished with complementary quali- 
fications, their association in the conduct of the 
expedition was counted as a certain advantage. This 
was surely a reasonable expectation ; but the event 
proved that a greater mistake could not have been 
made. The two leaders, like jealous rivals, quarrelled 
from the start, kept wrangling throughout the 
expedition, and, after it was over, maintained a bitter 
feud, till death put an end to their animosity. The 
principal sliare in this work, and credit for the results, 



48 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

have been claimed by both, and it is not easy to satisfy 
oneself as to the real merits of the case. All things 
considered, the balance of evidence is in favour of 
Hume, and he shall have the more prominent place in 
the following sketch of the expedition. 

However favourable the Government might be to 
the progress of discovery, a poor provision was made 
for this long and perilous journey. The chief burden 
of the equipment fell upon the explorers themselves, 
who were ill able to bear the strain. Hume keenly 
felt the sacrifice of a favourite iron plough in order to 
purchase supplies. One way or other, a tolerable 
provision was forthcoming ; and then the explorers, 
accompanied by six servants, started on the pioneer 
journey on the 17th of October, 1824. At the close 
of the first day's march they encamped on the bank 
of a river near the site of the present town of Yass. 
From the 19th to the 22nd the expedition was 
detained in its progress by the Murrumbidgee. In 
the preceding year this river had been first seen by 
Europeans in its upper course in the Monaro country ; 
but for all that Hume had virtually the merit of being 
the discoverer. The Murrumbidgee was found to be 
in hiofh flood, and threatened an efiectual bar to fur- 
ther progress. But difficulty aroused this explorer to 
Herculean effort. Being supplied with a provision- 
cart, Hume took off" the wheels, and, with the help of 
a tarpaulin, improvised it into a rough-and-ready 
punt, which, assisted by one of the men, he dragged 
across the swollen river. Another day's march 



HUME AND HOVELL. 49 

brought them to the Narreno-ullen Meadows, where 
the party encamped for two nights. Again proceed- 
ing southward, tlie Tumut Kiver was discovered, and 
crossed without difficulty. Soon after, the expedition 
was sahited by a splendid surprise. From the sum- 
mit of a ridge, a little before noon on a clear and 
beautiful day, the magnificent amphitheatre of the 
Australian Alps, robed in snow, burst upon the view, 
and was now first seen by civilized men. About this 
time, or shortly before, it became evident to Hume that 
it would be necessary to direct the line of march more 
to the west, in order to avoid the Snowy Mountains. 
From this proposal Hovell dissented. Both leaders 
continued obstinate, and each persisted in following a 
different course with his respective adherents. A 
division of property had now become inevitable, and 
the principle of partition seems to have been that 
primiti\"e one in virtue of which the stronger gets 
the larger share. There being only one frying-pan 
remaining, each of the stalwart leaders simultaneously 
caught hold of this handy domestic article, and the 
poor pan went to pieces in the struggle, the result 
])eing such as would have followed the adoption of 
Solomon's advice to halve the livino- child. The 
separation of the leaders was not so irremediable as 
the division of the frying-pan. Hovell soon dis- 
covered the folly of schism, and, better thoughts pre- 
vailing, returned to re-unite his party with Hume's. 

After this incident nothing calling for special men- 
tion occurred till the IGth of November, which was 



50 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

signalled by the discovery of the principal river of 
Australia. Here was an agreeable surprise, coming as 
it did in defiance of the prediction of Oxley, who 
was reckoned the highest authority of the period. 
Hume called this river after his father ; but, forgetful 
of this fact. Captain Sturt, having hit it in its lower 
course, gave it the name of the Murray, by which it 
is now known through its whole length. The party 
who thus found themselves brought to a stand-still 
naturally looked upon the crossing of so large a river 
as a formidable undertaking, and some even insisted 
on regarding it as the limit of the expedition — per- 
haps homesickness also was beginning to prevail over 
their ardour for exploration. Hume was inflexible, as 
usual, threatening to throw one of the remonstrants 
into the river if he would not cross over of his own 
free will. The menace was effectual, and the heroic 
leader had the satisfaction of seeing the whole of the 
expedition on the other side of the Murray, having 
escaped without a hitch or accident. Soon after, a 
tributary, the Mitta Mitta, was reached, and crossed 
by means of a float constructed of wattles, and 
covered with a tarpaulin. Turning its coiirse more 
to the westward, the expedition continued to advance 
towards the attainment of its object. Passing near 
the site of the present Beechworth, the Ovens and 
Goulburn Rivers were crossed without serious diffi- 
culty. In fact, the whole journey up to this point 
had been remarkably uneventful for an Australian 
tour of exploration. But for the leaders' quarrels and 



HUME AND HOVELL. 51 

separations it might have sunk into a rather tame 
and monotonous affair. Now at length, however, 
a Titanic obstacle had to be encountered. Mount 
Disappointment (of which Mount Macedon is a con- 
tinuation) stretched across the track, as if to defy 
further progress. For a while they nobly persevered 
in hewing their way through the dense, tangled, and 
apparently interminable brushwood, being animated 
by the assurance of Hume that the opposing barrier 
could be nothing else than the Dividing Range, which 
betokened the near termination of their labours. 
Unfortunately the life and soul of the expedition, 
now more than ever indispensable to its success, here 
met with a disabling accident from a stake. The way 
through the scrub had to be abandoned, and a more 
circuitous route followed. The most serious difficulty 
on the march was a boggy creek in the locality where 
the town of Kilmore now stands. Here again an 
attempt was made to throw up the undertaking and 
return home. Hume, feeling certain in his own mind 
that they could not have much further to go, entered 
into a compact with the discontents, engaging to turn 
back in the course of two or three days should the 
goal of the journey fail to come in view within that 
period. On the same day, the l.Sth December, the 
Dividing Range, in this part known as the Big Hill, 
was finally crossed, and all difficulties came to an end. 
Hume, having proceeded a short way in advance, and 
keeping an anxious look-out, observed an opening in 
the mountains and a falling of the land toward the 



52 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

south. This was a clear token heralding the approach 
to the close of their wanderings. Hume, alone as he 
was, gave way to an outburst of gladness, and awoke 
the echoes of the ranges with his lusty cheers. His 
men came speedily round him and shared his joy. 
Their fatigues and disappointments were henceforth 
things to be remembered, but no longer felt. The 
same evening they encamped on the splendid Iramoo 
Downs, having the ramparts of the range at their 
backs, and in three days more saw the long-desired 
billows of the ocean rolling at their feet. Having- 
reached the close of the journey, they formed the 
last encampment within twelve miles of the present 
town of Geelono- after travellins^, since their start 
from Lake George, not less than 670 miles. 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 53 

CHAPTER V. 

ALLAN CUNNINGHAM'S EXPLORATIONS. 

Few visitors to the Sydney Botanic Gardens can fail 
to notice a memorial obelisk standing on a shady 
islet in the lower grounds. This monument, as the 
inscription declares, was erected in memory of Allan 
Cunningham, an eminent botanist, and for some time 
curator of these Gardens. But beyond the scanty 
information here given, very little is now generally 
known of the life and work of this Avorthy man. 
Restrained by that modesty which is so often a con- 
comitant of real genius, lie shrank from publicity 
during his own brief and busy lifetime ; and 
posterity, ever too forgetful of the obligations of the 
past, have allowed his achievements to lapse into 
unmerited oblivion. This is tiao'rant ingratitude 
which should be brought to an end by a generous 
endeavour to resuscitate a heroic and patriotic 
memory. 

Alhin Cunningham was born at Wimbledon, England, 
on the 18th of July, 1701, and was of Scotch extrac- 
tion on the father's side. Being designated for the 
l)ar he entered in due time upon the legal profession, 
l)ut soon abandoned it as uncongenial to his tastes 
and habits. Tlie study of 1>otany proved an irresis- 
tible fascination to young Allan, who soon became a 
proficient in this science. Having been introduced to 



54 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Sir Joseph Banks, he obtained, through his influence, 
an appointment as King's Botanist for Australia, with 
the view of furnishing the Royal Gardens at Kew 
with a collection of new plants from the southern 
hemisphere. He sailed, accordingly, for his destina- 
tion ; and, after spending a short time in Brazil, 
landed in New South Wales, probably in December, 
1816. As noticed in a preceding chapter he was 
associated with Oxley in his expeditions to the 
Lachlan and Macquarie rivers, and it was during 
these wanderings that the young botanist conceived 
a passion for exploration which did not leave him 
till the day of his death. This tour being ended, 
Cunningham returned to Parramatta, where he fixed 
his home, so far as he had one, during his life in 
Australia. 

In the close of 1817, the Meimiaid, under the com- 
mand of Captain, afterwards Admiral, King, was 
preparing to leave Port Jackson on a voyage of dis- 
covery on the western coast of Australia. Cunning- 
ham, to his intense satisfaction, received a letter from 
Sir Joseph Banks, directing him to join this expedi- 
tion, in the interest of botanical science. Sailing 
through Bass' Strait the Mermaid came to anchor in 
KinCT Georo-e's Sound and other harbours, which 
proved to be well suited for the botanist's purpose, 
and yielded 300 species of new plants. With this 
spoil he came home fully satisfied. His next essay in 
this field was an excursion to Illawarra, which was 
always a favourite district with him. But this ramble 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. oa 

was only an interlude. In 1819 he again joined 
Captain King in an expedition to the Macquarie 
Harbour, on the western coast of Van Diemen's Land 
(Tasmania), where also he collected many valuable 
specimens for the Kew Gardens. Soon after he was 
again associated with the same navigator on another 
voyage to the north-western coast. Still two more 
expeditions to the same coast were undertaken and 
successfully carried out within the next two years. 
The results in every case were highly successful, and 
the boundaries of science gained further extension 
from these enterprises. 

Having spent four years on these voyages with 
King, Cunningham became inoculated with the spirit 
of adventure, and thirsted for an exploit on his own 
account. The feat he proposed to himself was to open a 
practical route from Bathurst to the Liverpool Plains. 
This splendid district, as already narrated, had been 
discovered by Oxley three years previously ; but he 
ha<l entered it from the western side — so to speak, by 
the back door — on his journey from the marshes of 
the Macquarie. The discovery had, consequently, 
been useless, and the Liverpool Plains were as yet 
known only by name. Sir Thomas Brisbane, the 
Governor of the day, entered heartily into Cunning- 
ham's scheme, having clearly understood the import- 
ance of the object in view. Orders for an equipment 
were issued to the full extent of the explorer's require- 
ments. All things being ready by the 31st of March, 
1823, the party, consisting of the leader, with tive 



56 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

men, and five pack-horses, carrying provisions for ten 
weeks, left Parramatta for Bathurst, which was 
reached on the oth of April, and then the northward 
journey commenced. After many weary stages, during 
which the patience of the men and the strength of the 
horses were severely tried, they reached the Warram- 
bungle Mountains, which form the southern boundary 
of the Liverpool Plains ; but the difficulty in finding 
a passage through this barrier appeared to be 
insuperable. The first fortnight was spent to no 
purpose in attempting to discover an opening on the 
south-eastern side. Almost in despair, the party re- 
traced their steps and fell back on a former encamp- 
ment on the Goulburn River, the principal tributary 
of the Hunter. Provisions were now getting short, 
and the allowance had to be reduced ; but, in spite 
of all these dispiriting circumstances, Cunningham 
still resolved to prosecute his enterprise by making 
another stru2:2:le to find an entrance from a different 
point. Turning now to the north-west, and searching 
along the front of the range, he succeeded at last, on 
the oth of June, in discovering a gap which afforded a 
good passage into the Liverpool Plains. To this 
entrance he gave the name of Pandora's Pass, believing 
it would become the chief if not the only means of 
communication between the settlers at Bathurst and 
the Hunter Piver and the occupants of the plains. 
The following memorandum was buried in a valley 
immediately below the pass : — 

" After a very laborious and harassing journey from 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 57 

Bathurst, a party, consisting of five persons, under 
the direction of Allan Cunningham, H.M. Botanist 
(making the sixth individual), having failed of finding 
a route to the Liverpool Plains, whilst tracing the 
south base of the barrier mountains (before us, north), 
so far as 50 miles to the eastward of this spot, at 
length, upon prosecuting their research under this 
great mountain belt, north by west from this tree, to 
the very extensive levels connected with the above- 
mentioned plains, of which the southernmost of the 
chain is distant about 11 or 12 miles N.N.W. from 
this valley, and to which a line of trees has been 
carefully marked, thus opening an unlimited, un- 
bounded, and seemingly well-watered country N.N.W, 
to call forth the exertions of the industrious agricul- 
turist and grazier, for whose benefit the present labours 
of the party have been extended. . . . Buried 
for the information of the first farmers who may 
venture to advance so far to the northward as this 
vale ; of whom it is requested that this document may 
not be destroyed, but carried to the settlement at 
Bathurst, after opening the bottle." 

This memorandum was found a few years ago, and 
the explorer's directions carried out. The object of 
the expedition being now accomplished, the party 
returned on the homeward track, and Allan Cunning- 
ham reached Parramatta on the 21st of July, 1823. 

In the next important enterprise he is found 
associated ^\'itll Oxley, exploring the country around 
Moreton Bay. They surveyed the Brisbane River, 



58 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

pushing up the stream as far as was practicable in 
their boat. It turned out to have but a short course, 
and they were disappointed in their expectation of 
being carried for some distance into the interior. Yet 
this labour had the negative value of satisfying the 
public that the Brisbane was not one of the great 
rivers of Australia. The Kino-'s Botanist aoain found 
rich spoil for the Boyal Gardens at Kew. 

During the winter months of 1825, being again 
bent on travel, Cunningham started for a northern 
tour. Leaving Parramatta, he crossed the Hawkes- 
bury and proceeded towards Wollombi, one of the 
tributaries of the Hunter Biver. Still pushing ahead 
he reached Mount Danger, then Pandora's Pass, and 
entered upon the Liverpool Plains. These he now 
found to be a region of swamps and marshes as the 
consequence of a rainy season. Having crossed this 
district as best he could, the ardent traveller pressed 
on through Camden Valley and reached Dunlop's 
Head, at no great distance from the Biver Darling, 
which, with a little presentiment, he might soon have 
discovered and anticipated Captain Sturt. But as 
the country was now begimiing to dip perceptibly, 
being in many places covered with water, which had 
accumulated during recent wet weather, he deemed 
prudence the better part of valour, and abandoned a 
hopeless enterprise. He was again in his own home 
by the 17th of June, having travelled in all about 
700 miles. 

After a short season of rest, during which New 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 59 

Zealand was visited, this untiring scientist returned 
to the colony and offered himself for further explora- 
tion with renewed zest and zeal. The time was 
opportune, for the Governor had been anxiously 
looking- about for a suitable leader to conduct an 
expedition to the distant north. Cunningham's offer 
was therefore eagerly accepted, and ample provision 
made for his requirements. All things being ready, 
the start was made on the 30th of April, 1827, with 
six picked men and eleven heavily-laden horsemen. 
The route skirted the western flank of the Liverpool 
Plains, and by the 11th of May the party entered 
upon ground hitherto untrodden by civilized man. 
A fine valley now opened to view, and was named the 
Stoddart, in remembrance of an old friend of the 
explorer's. The Namoi River was next forded, and by 
the 25th the hilly country on the west had sunk into the 
plain. The scene that now lay before them will be 
best described in the words of the leader of the 
expedition. " A level open interior of vast expanse, 
bounded on the north and north-west by a distant 
horizon, broke suddenly on our view. At north-west, 
more particularly, it was evident to all of us that the 
country had a decided dip, and in that bearing the 
line of sight extended over a great extent of densely 
wooded or brushed land, the monotonous aspect of 
which was here and there relieved by a brown patch 
of plain ; of these some were so remote as to appear 
a mere speck on the ocean of land before us, on 
which the eye sought anxiously for a rising smoke 



CO THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

as indicative of the presence of the wandering 
aborigines, but in vain ; for, excepting in the imme- 
diate neighbourhood of a river of the larger magni- 
tude, these vast solitudes may be fairly said to be 
almost entirely without inhabitants. We had now 
all the hiofh grounds on our rioht, or to the east of 
us, and before us, to the north, a level wooded country." 
These j^lains which ran out towards the western 
interior, having turned out to be drier than was 
expected, the line of route was now directed more to 
the north and north-west, with the result of discover- 
ing and crossing the Dumaresq River, within a few 
days. The course next lay for some time through a 
poor and inhospitable country in which the jaded 
horses fared badly enough. By the 5th of June, this 
sterile belt was left behind, and now the eyes of the 
patient explorers rested on one of the finest regions 
they had ever beheld. For many a league north, east, 
and west the field of vision was filled with a pano- 
rama of boundless plains, rolling downs, and azure 
mountain ranges. This magnificent territory, rivalling 
a principality in size, was clad with luxuriant vegeta- 
tion and generally well watered. The name Darling- 
Downs was subsequently bestowed on this fine country 
in honour of Governor Darling, and it now forms one 
of the most valued possessions in the colony of 
Queensland. The average elevation of this table-land 
Cunningham found to be about 1,800 feet above sea- 
level. Had this worthy man performed no other 
public service during his lifetime, the discovery of 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 61 

the Darling Downs would have given him a strong- 
claim on the gratitude of posterity. 

Having now sufficiently realized the aim of the 
northern expedition, Allan Cunningham ceased to 
push farther in that direction, and made eastward 
for the coast. Here also was made an important 
discovery on a smaller scale in the unexpected appear- 
ance of a fertile valley, with a river of greater size 
than a mountain stream. To both the valley and the 
river he gave the name of Logan, in compliment to 
the commander of the penal settlement at Brisbane. 
The expedition tarried for some time in this lovely 
vale, where both men and beasts of burden enjoyed 
much-needed repose. Cunningham himself, who 
scarcely understood what rest meant, botanized as 
usual, and examined the physical configuration of the 
country. On a fine morning he scaled one of the 
impending peaks, from the summit of which he 
obtained a comprehensive view of the situation and 
its surroundings. To the south-east, at the distance 
of GO or 70 miles, the towering cone of Mount 
Warning, the sailor's beacon, rose in impressive 
grandeur ; while towards the north-east the environs 
of Moreton Bay were plainly visible. This latter 
revelation made it obvious that the proper route to 
the Darling Downs would be from Moreton Bay, by 
the Brisbane River, and through the Main Range. 
Hence it became a matter of the first importance to 
find a passage through the mountains, if within tlie 
bounds of possibility. An effort was accordingly 



62 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

made, and an opening, as he believed, discovered, but 
its complete verification had to be deferred till 
another opportmiity;> The homeward journey was 
resumed on the 16th of June. On the 80th, the 
Dumaresq River was crossed 50 miles above the out- 
ward bound track of the expedition. In ten days 
more a large river was reached, and is now well- 
known under the native name Gwydir. They next 
came upon a wooded tract, reached by a descent of 
1,200 feet, a sore task for the weary horses. On the 
19th the party were again on the Liverpool Plains, 
and a few days' more travelling brought them to their 
welcome homes. They had journeyed over 800 miles, 
and been absent thirteen weeks. One noteworthy 
incident connected with the tour was the paucity of 
native inhabitants met with in any of the districts. 
Only five times, from first to last, had the black- 
fellows put in an appearance, and even then the 
explorers had seen nothing but the colour of their 
skin. 

Cunningham's health now began to give way, and 
he longed to return to old England, to end his days 
in the land of his birth ; but, before doing so, he 
planned and executed another exploring excursion to 
More ton Bay. His principal object was to obtain 
certain evidence of the existence and practicability of 
the pass, which he believed to have been already 
discovered. After much rough work he had the 
good foi'tune to set this question at rest and point out 
a passage into the Darling Downs, as he had formerly 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 63 

done into the Liverpool Plains. This pass still retains 
the name of Cunningham's Gap. The following 
succinct but sufficient notice is found in the explorer's 
own notes : — " This pass, or door of entrance from the 
sea-coast to a beautiful pastoral country of undefined 
extent, seen from this point, was this day (25th August, 
1828) visited by Allan Cunningham and a convict 
servant, and the practicability of a high road being 
constructed through it at some future day was most 
fully ascertained. The pass is in latitude 23" 3' S., 
and longitude 152° 26' E., and distant 54 statute 
miles from Brisbane Town." Four years later he was 
able to carry out his purpose of returning to England ; 
but his heart was in Australia all the while, and he 
Ijecame impatient to get back to its sunnj- skies and 
balmy air. On being offered the situation of Colonial 
Botanist he accepted tlie appointment, and returned 
to the land of so many of his labours ; but his new 
office was not what he expected. Besides keeping the 
Botanic Gardens, which would, alone, have been a 
most congenial occupation, he was required to act as 
landscape gardener for tlie upper classes and take 
charge of one hundred convicts, forty of whom 
were lodged in the barracks within the Gardens, and 
for whose good behaviour the curator was alone 
responsible. In addition to all this drudgery he was 
c<impelled to grow vegetables for tlie Government 
(jfficials. Such servitude was breaking his heart, and 
it can surprise no one to find liim throwing up the 
appointment in disgust. Tliis uudignilicd treatment 



64 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

of a man of shining merits is tartly alluded to in tlie 
Sydney Mail of the 29th January, 1838 :— 

" The Botanical, alias the Kitohen Garden. — 
We have had frequently to call the attention of the 
colonists to the fact that a kitchen garden, under the 
pretence of a botanic garden, is supported in Sydney 
at an expense of from £800 to £1,000 a year. We 
scarcely ever walk through this garden without 
seeing some servant with a basket, carrying off 
vegetables or fruit for Mrs. This or Mrs. That, the 
wife of some official. Can't these people go to market 
and purchase their supplies as independent persons 
do, instead of poaching on what is really public 
property. Seriously we do say that such an impudent 
job should be done awaj^ with. It is, in fact, so bare- 
faced that Mr. Cunningham would no longer consent 
to remain a mere cultivator of official turnips and 
cabbages, and accordingly he has resigned the manage- 
ment of the Botanic Garden in disgust." 

This valuable life was now fast hastening to its 
close. Twenty-five years of incessant labour, often 
performed under the most trying circumstances, broke 
down a constitution never particularly robust, and 
feeling this to be the case, Allan Cunningham retired 
from public view into his own hired house — but only 
to die. At the early age of 48 years, perceiving the 
hand of death to be upon him, he calmly resigned 
himself to the will of his Maker, and died as becomes 
a christian. He expired on the 27th of June, 1839. 
Admiral King, who had stood his firm friend during 



ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. 65 

the quarter of a century of Cunningham's active life, 
refers to his own bereavement in these touchincv 
words : — " Alas, poor Allan ! He was a rare specimen, 
quite a genus of himself ; an enthusiast in Australian 
geography ; devoted to his own science, botany ; a 
warm friend, and an honest man ; and, to crown all, 
when the time came, he resigned himself into the 
arms of his Saviour without a murmur." 



66 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

CHAPTER VI. 

CAPTAIN STURT's three EXPEDITIONS. 

The next hero that steps to the front is Charles Sturt, 
captain of the 39th regiment, which was stationed at 
Sydney in the early days of our history. He stands, 
beyond all question, in the first rank of Australian 
explorers. His single compeer. Sir Thomas Mitchell, 
was more fortunate in discovery, but it may be doubted 
whether he excelled Captain Sturt in real capability 
for this work. The future historian will probably 
decide the rival claims by bracketing the two names 
as holding a joint first in Australian exploration. 
Naturally brave, resolute, and patient in labour, Sturt 
was, moreover, a man of varied culture and extensive 
scientific acquirements. As an officer in the army he 
had been accustomed to command, and at no time did 
he experience any difficulty in managing the several 
exploring parties under his charge, although they 
were mostly drawn from the ordinary convict element 
at Port Jackson. This influence over others may have 
been due to natural tket even more than to acquired 
habit, but in either case it proved a valuable qualifica- 
tion, and served him in good stead with the native 
population as well as with his own men. His heroism 
often brought him into situations of extreme peril, 
beins: sometimes environed with savages well armed 
and out of all proportion to the number of his own 



CAPTAIN STURT. 67 

men ; but his adroitness never failed to extricate 
himself and party from the most imminent danger. 
Scarcely any of our explorers opened up so much of 
the interior, or so frequently came into contact with 
savage tribes, and yet his humane disposition preserved 
him all through his career from shedding the blood of 
a single individual of that unhappy race which others, 
with less excuse, have not scrupled to shoot down like 
dogs. When stooping under the weight of years, 
with a constitution enfeebled by heroic exertions, and 
so afflicted with blindness as to be unable to finish 
his narrative without the aid of an amanuensis, the 
veteran explorer devoutly thanked God that, amid all 
his critical encounters and hair-breadth escapes, he 
had been saved from the necessity of shedding a drop 
of blood from the veins of the Australian aborigines. 



As early as the year 1818 the Macquarie River had 
been explored as far as practicable by John Oxley, 
the Surveyor-General. This indefatigable traveller 
had traced its course into the far interior till it 
seemed lost and appeared to terminate in a series of 
swamps, overgrown with dense reeds. All his efforts 
to proceed further westward proved unavailing, and 
he turned aside to other work, being under the 
impression that he had seen all that was visible of the 
Macquarie. Like some others of his time, Oxley ha<l 
taken up with the idea of a mediterranean sea whicli 
was supposed to cover the interior of Australia; and 



68 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

such being his opinion, it was natural to fancy he had 
reached its margin in those swamps of seemingly 
indefinite extent into which the Macquarie poured its 
flood. During the next ten years Cunningham had 
pushed as far north as the Darling Downs, while 
Hume and Hovell had been equally successful in 
forcing their way south to Port Phillip ; but out west 
no progress was made beyond the goal of Oxley's 
explorations. But ignorance of the interior hung like 
a cloud over the settlement, a vague feeling of mystery 
kept curiosity awake, and a general desire began to 
be expressed for fresh explorations in that direction. 
The times, too, which in other respects happened to be 
signally disastrous, appeared to be just as favourable 
for such an enterprise. A drought of several years' 
standing was then devastating the colony ; but this 
misfortune, which brought ruin to the doors of so 
many settlers, seemed, strangely enough, to be a strong 
recommendation to start an exploring expedition. It 
had been Oxley's misfortune to examine the country 
during an exceptionally wet season, and it was 
conjectured that floods had laid under water the low- 
lying country on the further reaches of the Macquarie,^ 
and thus interposed a temporary obstruction to the 
westward advance of exploration. But now, after a 
drought of long standing, it was hoped that the 
swamps, if not dried up, would at least be so much 
reduced as to render the much-desired object more 
likely to be accomplished. 

Governor Darling, accordingly, determined on 



CAPTAIN STUllT. 69 

sending out another expedition. In the all-important 
question of a leader, he was singularly fortunate in 
selecting Captain Sturt. The latter took as his 
-associates Mr. Hamilton Hume, who had already 
gained his own laurels in exploration, Staff-Surgeon 
M'Leod, two soldiers, and eight convicts. The instruc- 
tions received from headquarters were, generally, to 
follow up the discoveries of Oxley, to endeavour to 
ascertain the " fate " of the Macquarie, and to put 
forth the utmost effort to penetrate westward to the 
furthest possible limit. 

All the material requisites for the expedition were 
forwarded to Wellington Valley, which at that time 
was the outpost of civilization toward the west, and 
Sturt was instructed to form his depot at Mount 
Harris, which had been Oxley's most advanced 
encampment ten years earlier. All preparations being 
made, the party left Sydney on the 10th of September, 
1828, under the command of Captain Sturt, who 
•only a week previously had followed the remains of 
Oxley to the grave. After a few days of uneventful 
travelling through the settled territory, Wellington 
Valley was reached, and, by the 10th of December, 
the explorers were encamped at Mount Harris, the 
ne plus ultra of their predecessors, and near the sup- 
posed termination of the Macquarie River. Altliough 
ten years had passed away, traces of the old camp 
were easily found. From the summit of tlie mountain 
a good prospect towards the interior was obtained, and 
a tolerably favourable impression left on tlie minds of 



70 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Sturt and Hume, The marshes were seen to be dried 
up in some places altogether, and in others very much 
contracted, and, as thS bed of the river continued to 
be well defined, there did not appear to be much 
difficulty in pushing the limit of discovery consider- 
ably beyond the line at which it had stood for ten 
years past. 

Following the course of the Macquarie for some 
miles westward, it was found to enter a swamp of 
considerable size. As the sluggish current was the 
only clue to lead them through this ambiguous tract of 
land and water, it was deemed indispensable to keep 
to the channel at all hazards as it meandered through 
the marshes. For this purpose Sturt here turned 
to account a good-sized boat which had, with a wise 
foresight, been provided among the travelling 
requisites. But their progress by water proved to be 
less expeditious than it had been on the land, for the 
channel wriggled like a snake, and the navigation was 
provokingly hindered by snags. Gradually the course 
of the river became better defined, but only to lose 
itself again in a labyrinth of creeks and marshes. 
Puzzled and bewildered, with no hope of further 
progress in the boat, Sturt and Hume resolved to 
make separate excursions to the right and left, each 
taking his own complement of followers. Many 
hardships had to be endured from heat and drought, 
while the results were not very considerable. Sturt 
rode over 200 miles of desert country and was much 
fatigued. The principal discoveries made about this 



CAPTAIN STURT. 71 

time were Oxley's Table-land and New Year's Creek, 
mistaken by the explorers for a branch of the 
Maequarie, but which was in reality the Bogan River. 
Eventually both sections of the expedition reunited 
and bravely struck out for the interior, giving 
defiance to thirst and fatigue, and devoutly wishing 
for something to turn up. They had not far to go 
till this desire was realized. At a moment when they 
were not thinking of it, the foremost of the party 
found their progress stopped on the bank of one of 
the principal rivers in Australia. Its ample channel 
extended to seventy or eighty yards in breadth, and 
its bosom was covered with wild fowl of every wing. 
Almost perishing with thirst, both man and beast 
rushed down the shelving bank, and in a moment 
M^ere gulping down the water of the welcome stream. 
Never did travellers meet with so " bitter " a disap- 
pointment. " I shall never forget," says Sturt, " the 
cry of amazement or the look of terror with which 
they cried out to inform me that the river was so salt 
as to be unlit to drink." The cup of relief was 
dashed from their lips, and they were left to the most 
gloomy reliections on the future supply of this 
element. They conjectured, not unnaturally, that 
this saline qualit}' must be derived from near contact 
with the sea, and anxiously watched for the slightest 
indications of a rising; or a fallino" tide, but to no 
purpose. The cause was afterwards traced to briny 
springs in the river's banks, which must have been a 
temporary occurrence, for the same inconvenience is 



72 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

not met with now. The discovery in all other 
respects was clearly perceived to be of the utmost 
value, and went far to* annihilate the pet theory of an 
inland sea, which thus kept receding further and 
further from human ken. It was already evident that 
this noble river must play a principal part in the 
drainage of the western slope of the mountain ranges, 
and we now know that it forms the backbone of 
the river system of eastern Australia and the high- 
way of intercolonial commerce. Sturt, therefore, paid 
Governor Darling no mean compliment in associating 
his name with this grand discovery and calling it the 
Darling River. 

The expedition now followed the lead of the River 
Darling for about sixty-six miles. As the country 
continued to be inhospitable, the blacks troublesome, 
and the supply of water precarious, it was resolved to 
proceed no further in that direction. A return was 
accordingly made to the depot at Mount Harris, which 
was reached partly by way of New Year's Creek, or 
the Bogan River, without any serious mishap being- 
encountered. 

Among the secondary instructions given to the 
expedition was a direction to push northwards, if 
baffled and driven back from the western interior. 
They had not failed in that quarter by any means, 
but as their work there was finished, and a good supply 
of provisions left, it was thought advisable to attempt 
a journey to the Castlereagh, which was simply 
known to exist. In this effort they were again 



CAPTAIN STURT, 73 

successful. Having travelled by way of Morriset's 
Ponds, a sufficient supply of water was obtained to 
help them on to the Castlereagh, where, of course, it 
was expected to be abundant, seeing that Oxley had 
been able to cross it after some delay and with much 
difficulty. But this anticipation was doomed to dis- 
appointment. The bed of the river was found to be 
as dry as dust. The explorers, after a long search, 
hit upon only one small pool in the sand which yielded 
but a temporary supply. The Castlereagh was now 
traced towards its supposed junction with the Darling 
for the distance of 100 miles, 4.5 of which were 
destitute of water. But their perseverance was 
rewarded with a second view of the Darling, which 
was struck about 90 miles above the point where the 
original discovery had been made. The stream here 
swarmed with fish, but was still salt and unfit to drink. 
Having crossed over to the further side, a dash was 
made by a short excursion into the interior, which 
proved, like the other side, to be a parched wilderness. 
The state of the country as observed throughout this 
journey is thus summed up in Sturt's narrative : — " So 
lono; had the drouoht continued that the vegetable 
kingdom was almost annihilated, and minor vegetation 
liad almost disappeared. In the creeks weeds had 
grown and withered and grown again, and young 
.saplings were now rising in their beds nourished by 
the moisture that still remained ; but tlie largest 
forest trees were drooping, and many were dead. The 
omus, with outstretched necks, gasping for breatli, 



74 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

searched the channels of the river for water in 
vain ; and the native dog, so thin that it could hardly 
walk, seemed to inlplore some friendly hand to 
despatch it. How the natives subsisted it was difficult 
to say, but there was no doubt of the scarcity of food 
amongst them." Surely this was no place to loiter in 
after the work was fairly accomplished. Contenting 
themselves with the substantial discoveries already 
made, the explorers resolved to return to the haunts 
of civilization. They soon found themselves in the 
lovely Wellington Valley, from which the expedition 
had been absent four months and a half. After 
another journey through the settled districts, each of 
the weary wanderers reached his home, no one having* 
sustained any injury to life or limb during this long 
and hazardous enterprise. 

IL 

Captain Sturt enjoyed but a very limited repose 
after the fatigues of the Macquarie expedition. He 
had returned to Sydney about the beginning of May, 
1829, and in September of the same year his undying 
enthusiasm was once more gratified with instructions 
from headquarters to get ready for a full exploration 
of the Murrumbidgee. The Macquarie and the 
Lachlan, terminating their respective courses in 
miserable swamps, or being believed to do so, had 
proved delusive guides to the interior of the continent. 
But the colonists were resolved to know the heart of 
Australia at all hazards. It was still believed that 



CAPTAIN STURT. 75 

some river must lead thither, all previous disappoint- 
ments notwithstanding. The Murrumbidgee alone 
remained as an untried experiment, and the little that 
was yet known of this river gave hope of a successful 
result. It had been first seen by two military officers, 
Currie and Ovens, on their discovery of the Monaro 
country in 1828, and in the year following it was 
crossed with difficulty by Hume and Hovell on their 
journey to Port Phillip. Here, at last, was a stream 
something like those of other countries, rising in the 
Alpine mountain-land, and flowing with a strong and 
rapid current in that direction to which the eyes of 
explorers were being so anxiously turned. It was 
determined, therefore, to equip another expedition, 
under the command of Captain Sturt, to explore its 
unknown course, for the purpose of ascertaining 
whether it emptied itself into an inland sea or 
found its way to the southern or to the eastern 
coast. The party, under Sturt's leadership, consisted 
of Mr. George Macleay, son of the Colonial Treasurer, 
Mr. Frazer, botanist, and six others. Among other 
requisites awhaleboat was provided, which eventually 
proved of the utmost service to the purpose in view. 

The expedition left Sydney, in full force and high 
spirits, on the 8rd November, 1829. Goulburn Plains 
were reached by the 15th, and on the 25th the 
Murrumbidgee was struck, not far from Jugiong. The 
appearance of the stream was quite up to Sturt's 
expectations, but the rugged country on its baid<s 
delayed tlie passage of the drays, and tlicir |\i;t»gre8S 



76 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

was not very rapid. In a little time they reached the 
junction of the Dumot (Tumut) River, which con- 
siderably increased thfe volume of the Murrumbidgee, 
and this addition was accepted as a good omen. In 
their course along the river, sometimes on one side 
and sometimes on the other, occasional plains were 
traversed, extending from 400 to 700 acres in extent, 
and wholly devoid of timber. Lower down the river 
one of much larger size was reached, and here the 
explorers were not sorry to make a short break in the 
journey. The natives called this plain Pondebadgery. 
Its size was three and a half by two miles, the soil 
being rich and the scenery exquisite. On one side 
was the bend of the river, here 80 yards wide, and 
a,bounding in fish, one of which was found to weigh 
40 pounds. Hamilton Plains were next discovered, 
and named after a favourite stafF-surgeon. The 
expedition, it was believed, had now come within 2-5 
miles of the most southern point attained by Oxley. 
This notable explorer, having reached the swamps of 
the Lachlan, and being thus driven to his wits' end, 
resolved to strike southward and make for the coast, 
but want of water determined him to return to the 
Lachlan, after weeks of toilsome travel ; whereas, had 
he only pushed on another 25 miles, the Murrumbidgee 
would have been discovered, and a new era opened in 
Australian exploration. Sturt attempted to connect 
the surveys of Oxley's expedition with his own, but 
was not successful. As travelling continued to be 
slow and difficult, it was resolved to launch the boat 



CAPTAIN 8TURT. 77 

and build a skiff to convey the provisions. This was 
accordingly done, some of the party being at the same 
time sent back to Goulburn with the drays. Seven 
days having been consumed in these preparations, the 
remainder of the party boldly committed themselves 
to the stream. Sturt had a strong presentiment that 
the Murrumbidgee would join some other river, and 
hoped to find it navigable for his boat during the 
remainder of its course. On the following day a serious 
mishap occurred. The skiff* was sunk by a snag, and 
the provisions, after being much damaged, had to be 
recovered by diving. The enterprise was a hazardous 
one at the best. What with rapids at one time and 
snags at another, their lives on several occasions were 
in real jeopardy. But the longest lane has its turning, 
and this tortuous channel also had an end. On the 
seventh day after taking to the boat the bed of the 
river became strangely contracted, and the current so 
powerful that, in place of rowing, all their strength 
was needed to steady the boat, which was borne along 
with the swiftness of an arrow, and in another moment 
shot forth impetuously into the broad reach of the 
finest river in Australia. " It is impossible for me," 
says Sturt, " to describe the effect of so instantaneous 
a change of circumstances upon us. The boats were 
allowed to drift along at pleasure, and such was the 
force with which we had been shot out of the Mur- 
rumbidgee that we were carried nearly to the bank 
opposite its embouchure whilst we continued to gaze 
in silent astonishment on the capacious chamiel we 



78 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

had entered, and when we looked for that by which 

we had been led into it we could hardly believe that 

the insignificant gap that presented itself to us was 

indeed the termination of the Ijeautiful stream whose 

course we had thus successfully followed. I can only 

compare the relief we experienced to that which the 

seaman feels on weathering the rock upon which he 

expected that his vessel would have struck, to the 

calm which succeeds moments of feverish anxiety, 

when the dread of danger is succeeded by the certainty 

of escape." This was indeed a noble river. Its width 

was 350 feet, its depth not less than 12, and its 

current was running at the rate of two and a half 

knots an hour. The discoverers believed they had 

now obtained ample reward for all their toils and 

trials. This was the same river which had been 

discovered and crossed by Hume and Hovell where 

the town of Albury now stands, but lietween that 

point, where it had been first seen by civilized man, 

and the part now visited by Sturt, it had received so 

many tributaries as to make it a much larger and, in 

a sense, another river. Sturt called it the Murray, 

after the Imperial Colonial Secretary, but the original 

discoverer had named its upper course the Hume in 

memory of his father. For a time these names were 

confined to the respective parts of the river ; and Dr. 

Lang censured Count Strzelecki for departing from 

this usage in his published work. General practice 

has now deserted the Doctor and followed the Count. 

The number and persistent hostility of the aborigines 



CAPTAIN STURT. 79 

formed a serious obstacle to the progress of this 
expedition. It was computed that no fewer than 
4,000 were met with on the Murray. They were a 
low type even for Australian savages, and did not 
give evidence of a single redeeming quality. Addicted 
to every vice, living in the deepest sink of bestiality, 
with bodies in many cases rotting with disgusting- 
diseases, they presented a loathsome spectacle, and 
were avoided whenever possible. Even when not 
disposed to be openly hostile, their presence at the 
camp was a terrible nuisance, and they were generally 
persuaded to leave, or hunted away. Sometimes they 
would rally their forces, and then prove not only 
troublesome but really dangerous. Like all savages 
they were adepts in deceit, and could wait their 
opportunity when a purpose had to be served. By 
dint of numbers and strategy together, they nearly 
.succeeded on one occasion in annihilatino" the 
expedition. So long as the river maintained its usual 
width the boat was tolerably safe in the middle of the 
channel, for the spears of the savages were nearly 
harmless when they reached the centre of the stream, 
but their progress was rapidly approaching a spit which 
stretched far into the channel, and this position was 
seen to be occupied by blacks numbering more than 
fifty to one of Sturt's party. The situation was awfully 
critical, and in a few minutes more appeared to be 
positively desperate, for the boat grounded in shoal- 
water, and the explorers were at the mercy of the 
savages. Happily at this juncture some other natives. 



80 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

who ]iad previously been friendly to the -white men, 
arrived on the scene, and, through a somewhat 
barbarous style of intercession, prevailed with their 
sable fraternity in the interest of Sturt, and the 
murderous attack was immediately abandoned. 

Travel through an unknown country is usually a 
series of surprises, and it was no ordinary one that 
was now in store for the explorers. The spit which 
had threatened to be so disastrous proved to be an 
embankment silted up by the entrance of another 
large river into the Murray. Sturt had already been 
looking out for the junction of the Darling, which he 
had discovered on the previous expedition ; and the 
question now to be determined was whether this could 
be the embouchure of the same river. He had struck 
the Darling at two points only a few months before, 
and at both places its water had been found too salt 
to drink ; here, howe^■er, it was quite fresh ; but in all 
other respects appearances were in favour of this river, 
and the Darling >Sturt maintained it to be. For years 
after his decision was disputed, and even ridiculed by 
an authority of no less weight than Sir Thomas 
Mitchell. Subsequent exploration finally settled the 
question in Sturt's favour. The river was and could 
have been no other but the Darling, and thus another 
important problem of Australian geography was 
satisfactorily solved. 

Day after day the boat, with its adventurous crew, 
glided down the united stream of the Murray and the 
Daiding. Sometimes they passed over wide and long 



CAPTAIN STURT. 81 

reaches, stretching out for many miles, but occasionally, 
too, much difficulty was experienced in clearing the 
rapids. For a considerable part of the course the 
banks were high and steep, but usually picturesque. 
The country, so far as could be judged from a passing 
boat, was mostly of the poorest quality, offering 
scarcely a patch likely to reward the labour of the 
farmer. In one respect Stui-t was the most unfor- 
tunate of the explorers. From first to last he hardly 
ev^er had the good luck to hit upon a large tract of 
line country, the Alexandrina district excepted. His 
mission seemed to be the discovery of deserts, and of 
these he made known more than enouLjh to sfive 
Australia a bad name. Such being Sturt's ill-fortune, 
it is not surprising to find him indulging in gloomy 
views regarding the great interior ; but even in these 
forebodings he fell short of Oxle}', who was quite a 
Cassandra in his way. In the introduction to his 
narrative the Captain tries to account for the pre- 
<lominance of poor land in this outlying region of the 
world, and is inclined to attribute it to the want of 
decaying vegetable matter, as the trees seldom shed 
their leaves, and the little that is supplied from this 
or other sources being usually destroyed by bush fires. 
But Australia is not the desert land which Sturt 
imagined,or even portrayed, as will be seen further on. 
Its richest lands were yet locked up, and this same 
explorer was unconsciously preparing the key by 
which tliey were to be opened to private enterprise 
and the public benefit. Between the entrance of the 



82 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Darlino; and what is now known as the Great Bend 
an important tributary was observed to fall in from 
either side. The one from the north Sturt called the 
"Rufus, in honour of Mr. George Macleay, the second 
on the expedition. Probably the reader fails to 
perceive the point of the compliment. It lies just 
here : Mr. Macleay possessed a splendid head of red 
hair, and rufiis being- the Latin for red, down it 
went for the name of the river. The Captain, notwith- 
standing his sombre tinge, must have had a quiet vein 
of humour in his composition. The other tributary 
was called the Lindsay, after a gentleman of that 
name who was then Acting-Governor of the colony. 
On gaining the lower reaches of the Murray it was 
observed to widen rapidly, and at the 85° 15' of 
S. latitude expanded into a magnificent lake 60 miles 
lono- and 50 in width, which was named Alexandrina, 
in honour of the young princess, who soon after 
became Queen Victoria. When the far end of the lake 
had been reached, persistent but unavailing attempts 
were made to get the boat to sea. Before leaving 
Sydney it had been arranged to send a small vessel to 
St. Vincent Gulf to wait for the expedition, that 
being the most likely quarter for it to turn up if its 
course should be directed towards the southern coast. 
The appointed rendezvous was not far oft', and the 
explorers had every reason to strive to reach it ; but 
it was to no purpose that they wearied themselves in 
the effort. The narrow and tortuous channel which 
connected Lake Alexandrina with Encounter Bay was 



CAPTAIN STURT. 83 

impracticable even for a boat. It was, therefore, 
necessary to return by the way they had come. This 
was an awfully serious matter. They had now been 
32 days in the boat, during which one-half of the 
provisions had been consumed. If the depot on the 
Murrumbidgee was to be reached on the remaining 
moiety, it could only be by rowing up the river in 
the same period of time they had taken to glide 
down the current. This appeared to be scarcely 
possible, but all their strength was put forth, and they 
displayed such pluck and perseverance as shed 
enduring lustre on the heroism of Australian 
exploration. " Our journeys," writes Sturt, " were 
short, and the head we made against the stream but 
trifling. The men had lost the proper and muscular 
jerk with which they once made the waters foam and 
the oars bend. Their whole bodies swung with an 
awkward and laboured motion. Their arms appeared 
to be nerveless, and their faces became haggard, their 
persons emaciated, their spirits wholly sank — nature 
was so completely overcome that, from mere exhaustion, 
tliey frequently fell asleep during their painful and 
almost unceasing exertions. I became captious, and 
found fault where there was no occasion, and lost 
the equilibrium of my temper in contemplating the 
condition of my companions. No murmur, however, 
escaped them, nor did any complaint reach me that 
was intended to indicate that they had done all they 
could do. I frequently heard them in their tent, when 
they thouglit I had dropped asleep, complaining of 



84 THE AUSTRAL I AX EXPLORERS. 

severe pains and of great exhaustion. ' I must tell 
the Captain to-morrow,' some of them would say, 
' that I can pull no" more ! ' To-morrow came, and 
they pulled on, as if reluctant to yield to circum- 
stances. Macnamee at last lost his senses. We first 
observed this from his incoherent conversation, but 
eventually from his manner. He related the most 
extraordinary tales, and fidgetted about eternally in 
the boat." In such a plight did they reach the depot 
on the Murrumbidgee. Altogether 88 days were spent 
in the boat, and the distance travelled could not have 
been less than 4,000 miles. The rest of the journey 
was performed by easy stages, the party arriving in 
Sydney on the 25th of May, after an absence of 
almost seven months. 



in. 

The discovery of a rich territory on Lake Alexan- 
drina, was made in 1880, and before another decade 
had passed away the settlement of South Australia 
was established in this promising region. By a 
singular fatality, Sturt, as an explorer, had the 
infelicity of stumbling continually upon deserts, or 
on tracts only a shade better ; but the termination of 
the Murray, which he had navigated so courageouslj', 
brought him to the borders of an ample area of the 
richest land in Australia. In these circumstances it 
was natural for him to evince a special fondness for 
the locality which had been the most fortunate, as it 



CAPTAIN STUIIT. 85 

was also tlie latest, of Lis discoveries. The retired 
explorer accordingly settled down with his family in 
this chosen haunt, with the intention of making his 
permanent home in the young colony of South Aus- 
tralia. He received a civil appointment as Surveyor- 
General, which enabled him to live in comparative 
quiet and comfort, and he was highly respected for 
his o-reat services to Australia in general. After so 
many years of retirement, probably no one expected 
to hear anything further of Charles Sturt as an 
explorer. It could not, therefore, fail to produce a 
feeling of surprise when it became known that after 
fourteen years' repose he had sought and obtained 
from Lord Stanley the necessary requisites for another 
expedition into the interior. He had again become 
fired with his old ambition, and was now covetous of 
the honour of being the lirst European to plant his foot 
on the centre of Australia. All things being in readi- 
ness for this heroic undertaking, Sturt left Adelaide 
on the loth of August, 1S44, with a party of fourteen 
men, amply provisioned. He chose the route of the 
Darling and Murray rivers, which he proposed to follow 
till the outskirts of civilization were reached. The 
Murray was struck at " Murrundi," the residence at 
tliat time of another noted explorer, Mr. E. J. Eyre, who 
had recently accomplished his adventui'ous journey 
round the Great Australian Bight, and the river valley 
was thereafter traversed as far as the junction of the 
AVilliorara, a locality better known now under the 
name of the Laidley Pomls. This place was becoming 



86 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

knowTi to overlandei's, and it was hoped it might 
prove a suitable site for the first depot ; but this 
expectation was hardly justified by personal inspec- 
tion, and it became evident that the expedition must 
proceed at once into the interior. Sturt according!}' 
gathered his party around him, and, having engaged 
in appropriate devotional exercises, in which he com- 
mitted himself and his men to the watchful care of 
Almighty God, launched bravely forth into the perils 
of the wildei-ness. Some distance ahead a mountain 
chain was visible, to which the name of Stanley, or 
Barrier Rano-e, was afterwards Q-iven. The march 
was at first directed towards these heights, in the 
hope that a river might be discovered on the opposite 
fall which would lead into the interior. Here again 
expectation was doomed to disappointment, and the 
expedition was forced to proceed along the range, 
where water alone was to be found. Gradually the 
mountains sank into the plains to the northward, and 
it was resolved to strike out for the centre from this 
point, taking the risk of obtaining a sufficient supply of 
water at tolerable intervals. The country traversed in 
this direction proved to be cheerless and sterile in the 
extreme, and the journey was tedious and trying to a 
corresponding degree. Nevertheless, the party pressed 
forward, doing their best to deserve success. But it 
was to no purpose. The country became still more 
inhospitable, and water utterly failed. It was evident 
that the object of the expedition could not be reached 
by this route, and Sturt, wearied in body and chafed 



CAPTAIN STURT. 87 

in spirit, was compelled to retreat to the mountains 
on his outward track. This was his first repulse from 
the centre of Australia. 

A return was made to the depot, which had fortu- 
nately been established not far from the range, in a 
lovely oasis in the desert. No reader of the narrative 
of the expedition can soon forget the strange incidents 
of this depot in the Rocky Glen, which unexpectedly 
became the prison-house of the whole party for six 
months. The supply of water here was good and 
abundant, though not inexhaustible ; and this advan- 
tage was of supreme importance, as a drought of 
unparalleled severity was fast closing in upon the 
expedition. Being wearied and worn out by the toil- 
some journey to the northward, Sturt resolved to give 
his men a brief breathing time in this favoured spot ; 
and when this temporary repose was ended he found, 
to his consternation, that his retreat was cut off, while 
it was equally impossible to advance. Here is his 
owTi description of the heat and misery they had to 
undergo : — " The tubes of the thermometer burst, the 
liullocks pawed the ground to get a cooler footing, the 
men's shoes were scorched as if by fire, their finger 
nails were brittle as glass ; the lead dropped from the 
pencil, the ink dried in the pen, as Sturt wrote up his 
daily journal ; the drays almost fell to pieces, the 
screws loosened in their boxes, the horn handles of the 
instruments and tlieir combs split, the wool on the 
sheep and their own hair ceased to grow." Many 
persistent efforts were made on every side to find a 



88 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

way of escape ; but all to no purpose, for the drought 
had closed them in as effectually as a besieging army. 
There was no help for it but to make the best of tlieir 
misfortune until rain came to the rescue. Fortunately 
they had sufficient feed and plenty of water for their 
live stock, and for such mercies they were truly 
thankful. As the summer advanced it was found 
necessary to seek a partial refuge from the scorching- 
rays of the sun in an underground chamber, which 
had been constructed for this purpose. The imprison- 
ment had, at the same time, a few negative advantages. 
For one thing, the completeness of their isolation 
formed a sufficient safeguard against the assaults of 
the barbarous tribes of the interior ; for the same 
calamity which prevented the one party from getting 
away equally prohibited the other from approaching 
this oasis in the desert. During the six months' 
detention only one blackfellow had been able to put 
in an appearance, and not till reduced to the last 
extremity of hunger and thirst. The poor emaciated 
creature was prevailed upon to remain for the present ; 
but, having free access to the explorers' mutton, he 
grew tolerably fat in the course of a fortnight, when, 
with the usual gratitude of the barbarian, he turned 
his back upon his benefactors and took the way that 
pleased him best. The accounts of the interior which 
Sturt received from this and other aborigines he had 
previously encountered were disheartening in the 
extreme, and it was impossible to abstain from gloomy 
forebodings during this period of enforced incarceration. 



CAPTAIN STURT. 89 

But whether they were to have any more travelling 
or not was becoming more and more a matter of bare 
probability. The herbage of the valley had become 
reduced to mere dust, and the water had diminished 
so ominously as to make it apparent that, unless rain 
fell within a month, the party would certainly find 
their graves in the Rocky Glen, as one of them had 
already done. But the future had better things in 
store, and did not longer withhold them. In one of 
those sudden changes so characteristic of the Australian 
climate the sky assumed its curtain of clouds and 
Ijurst in a storm of rain, which deluged the valley. 
The roar of the rushing water, Sturt avers, was the 
sweetest music that ever fell upon his ear. That 
Avelcome thunderstorm was the key which opened the 
■door of the prison and gave liberty to the captives. 

This happy release was followed 'hj a period of 
successful travelling — not, indeed, void of difficulty, 
l)ut yet without much of stirring incident. Another 
<lep6t was formed, which is well known under the 
name of the Park. Having enjoyed a short breathing 
time here, the expedition again proceeded eastward, 
and touched on the northern extremity of Lake 
Torrens. A survey of this part having been made, in 
accordance with special instructions, they returned 
to the Park Depot, which was reached just twelve 
months after Sturt had left Adelaide. As time 
was thus rapidly passing away, he now resolved to 
put fortli all his strength in a bold effort to reach the 
summit of his ambition and place liis foot on the 



90 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

centre of Australia. Wishing to have as little encum- 
brance as possible, he divided his party, and, having 
picked three of the best men, started for the goal of 
his weary journeys, leaving the remainder in the 
depot. Day after day this forlorn hope toiled on. 
Plain succeeded plain over a dreary expanse of 
interminable country, redeemed only by a series of 
parallel watercourses, which afforded a sufficient supply 
of that indispensable element. One important creek 
was crossed, but had to be abandoned, as it headed in 
a wrong direction. Happily, a sufficient compensation 
was found in the discovery of another creek, which 
they called the Eyre, after the adventurous explorer ; 
and this godsend in the wilderness they were able to 
follow for a long distance. It was after they were 
compelled to leave it that they entered upon the stern 
realities of travel in the untrodden interior. The 
country now assumed an aspect so sterile and for- 
bidding as to place it out of comparison with anything 
which Sturt, the discoverer of deserts, had previously 
witnessed. For a space of 20 miles nothing was 
found but a series of sand-rido-es succeedincj one 
another with the monotonous regularity of the waves 
of the sea. The faticme which had to be endured in 
crossing this inhospitable tract was indescribable. It 
greatly weakened the strength of the party, and it 
was only the hope of soon meeting a change of country 
which lured them on. Nor was this expectation 
doomed to disappointment, for a change they met 
with at a moment's notice. All of a sudden 



CAPTAIN STURT. 91 

the jaded explorers found a stony desert spring- 
ing up beneath their feet and stretching away as 
far as the eye could reach, while it included within 
its ghastly embrace more than half the horizon. The 
suddenness of the appearance of this spectre of 
desolation struck tliem mute with surprise and horror. 
One of Sturt's attendants was the first to break the 
silence, which he did hy raising his hands and 
exclaiming — " Good heavens ■ did ever man see such 
country ? '" Probably he ne^■er did. It is worse even 
than the African Sahara. It is beyond the power of 
words to describe it as it stands in its lone and 
dread reality. Sturt's Stony Desert is one unbroken 
expanse of desolation, a wilderness of red ferruginous 
sandstone, undergoing perpetual disintegration, con- 
stituting a natural ruin on a gigantic scale, without a 
single redeemino- feature. Barrenness has marked 
this region for her own, and will ever hold it as a 
special possession. No life can subsist within its 
1 lorders ; the foot of the sa\'age is not upon its wastes, 
and the whole region is still and silent as the grave. 
Such is the dark picture as drawn by the explorer 
himself. Happily a better acquaintance has led to 
a more favourable opinion ; though the land of 
spinifex, it produces other vegetation of nutritive and 
even fattening properties. The Stony Desert proper 
consists of many patches, but probably none will be 
found to be very extensi\e. The stout hearts of the 
explorers quailed but for a moment. Be the conse- 
([uence what it might, they determined to go forward, 



92 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

and tlie iirst night found them encamped in the 
desert without a drop of water. Their only hope of 
safety consisted in expeditious travel out of this 
scene of desolation. It was found to extend 50 miles, 
and when the party reached the other side, they were 
in a condition which can be more easily conceived 
than described. Here again they entered upon a 
similar belt of sand-ridges such as they had found 
Hanking the Stony Desert on the other side. These, 
unhappily, were succeeded by another region of sand, 
utterly destitute of water. Their sufferings, which 
had formerly been great, were now intolerable. It 
became apparent that further progress was imprac- 
ticable, and it was just a question whether retreat 
was possible — certainly it could not remain so much 
longer with such heat and drought as were then 
prevailing. The necessity of retreat was thus forced 
upon them, but it was a very painful one. They had 
now travelled more than 400 miles from the depot 
(and such travelling !) and could they only have 
advanced another 150 miles they would have pitched 
their camp in the centre of Australia, the darling 
object of so many heroic sacrifices. Their reluctance 
to yield to this last dictate of necessity was extreme. 
A member of the expedition has pictured Sturt as he 
sat on one of the sand dunes with his face buried in 
his hands for a whole hour, while the struggle was 
gomg on in his own mind. It was not in nature, 
indeed, to yield without a mighty conflict. But 
inexorable necessity had to be obeyed notwith- 



CAPTAIN STURT. 93 

standing, and thus valuable lives were saved. This 
was his second repulse from the centre of Australia. 
Nothing is more admirable in the character of Sturt 
than his magnanimity under adversity. However 
keenly he may have felt his disappointment, his mind 
retained its accustomed tranquillity, and during the 
retreat he went on laying down the bearings of his 
route for the guidance of others who might follow 
and obtain the palm he had been compelled to 
resign. He reached the depot, where he had left the 
remainder of his party, on the 2nd October, 1845, 
havino; been absent seven weeks and travelled more 
than 800 miles. 

After a short period of rest and refreshment this 
chivalrous explorer, who amid all his heavy mis- 
fortunes was certainly tenax ])vopositi, to the surprise 
and regret of his party conceived the design of 
making one more attempt to reach the centre of 
Australia. He now determined on trying the line of 
the creek he had formerly discovered, and now called 
after Strzelecki, in the hope of its giving him sufR- 
cient northing to bring him within a practicable 
distance of the object for which the expedition had 
been sent. Strzelecki's Creek was found to answer his 
purpose so long as it lasted, and at its termination 
led to the discovery of another of much greater 
importance. To this new river Sturt gave the name 
of Cooper's Creek, after a distinguished South Aus- 
tralian judge. Unfortunately it flowed nearly east 
and west, and, therefore, had to l)e al)and()ncMl in the 



94 THE AUSTRALIAN EXFLOREliS. 

prosecution of a northern route. Leaving the plains 
which extended for some distance from the banks of 
Cooper's Creek, Sturt again encountered the ominous 
sand-ridges of which he had had sufficient experience 
on the former journey, and these being traversed, his 
hard fate again landed him on the edge of the Stony 
Desert. His destiny seemed ever mocking him with 
deserts, but this was the last he ever discovered. 
Having swept the unvarying horizon long and 
patiently with his telescope, and finding no break in 
the terrible monotony, he turned back for the third 
and last time from the effort to accomplish the dream 
of his life. After so many magnanimous sacrifices, 
he finally and for ever waived the palm of reaching 
the centre of the continent, which, sixteen years later, 
was won by a member of the same expedition, Mr_ 
J. M'Douall Stuart, whose march to the coveted spot 
reads in comparison like a holiday excursion. The 
party now fell back upon Cooper's Creek, which was 
traced upwards for a considerable distance. It is a 
remarkable circumstance that Sir Thomas Mitchell 
was exploring its upper waters about the same time. 
But nothing could be more diverse than the two 
descriptions of the same stream. Mitchell's is quite 
couleur de rose, and Sturt's has probably been tinged 
with the effect of his own misfortunes. While the 
one gave it the name of Cooper's Creek, as already 
noticed, the other called it the Victoria, after the 
Queen. This was most unfortunate, as there is another 
Victoria River on the west coast. However, both 



CAPTAIN STURT. 95 

designations are now generally superseded by the 
native name of Barcoo. 

It is unnecessary to enter into details respecting the 
lionieward expedition. The outward track was fol- 
lowed as closely as possible to Laidley Ponds, and 
thence to Adelaide. The water was rapidly drying 
up, and the retreat had to be conducted like the forced 
marches of an army. The men were nearly all ill, 
more or less, and some of them, being unable to walk, 
had to be carried long distances. Latterly, the leader 
of the expedition seems to have been the chief sufferer. 
Long exposure to the glaring reflection of the sun on 
the sandy wastes had ruined his eyesight, and not 
long afterwards he became permanently blind. Even 
now his constitution was completely shattered, and he 
had to be laid on a bed of leaves and conveyed from 
the interior in a cart, from which sufferings he never 
fully recovered. Such was Charles Sturt, after fifteen 
months' wanderings in the deserts of our country ; 
and henceforth this heroic and much-endurinir man 
disappeared from the stage of Australian history, of 
^vhich he had been long a distinguished ornament. 
He retired on a pension of £000 from the South 
Australian Legislature, and died at Cheltenham in 
1869. 



96 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

eyre's adventurous journey along the great 
australian bight. 

Edward John Eyre, the son of a Yorkshire clergy- 
man, was born in the year 1815. A youthful passion 
for the heroic led him to chose the military profession ; 
but, having failed to obtain a commission, he turned 
his attention to the colonies, and came to Sydney in 
1833, with the slender capital of £400. Part of this 
sum was spent in obtaining colonial experience, in 
which he o^raduated so hio^h as to become the leader 
in a new Australian enterprise. The newly founded 
settlements of Port Phillip (subsequently Victoria) 
and South Australia had created a great demand for 
stock, all of which had hitherto been carried by sea, 
and, on reaching their destination, were sold at famine 
prices. Young Eyre conceived the practicability of 
an overland route, and proceeded to prove it to a 
demonstration. In the first of these journeys he took 
1,000 sheep and 600 head of cattle from the Monaro 
district, m New South Wales, to Adelaide, in South 
Australia, by way of the Murray River, and reaped a 
handsome pecuniary reward in the sale of the stock. 
Smaller men followed in the wake of this born 
adventurer, making overlanding the most paying 
game in Australia, till a glut was produced in the 



EYRE. 97 

southern markets. Success having followed Eyre in 
the new path his enterprise had struck out, he was 
soon in possession of sufficient funds to begin squat- 
ting on his own account. He purchased the station 
" Murrundi," on the Lower Murray, where he resided for 
several years, acting also as magistrate and protector 
of the aborigines. Occasionally, too, he varied the 
monotony of bush life by feats of exploration into the 
unknown territory, thus keeping alive the spirit of 
adventure, and unconsciously qualifying himself for 
the romantic enterjDrise which will transmit his name 
to distant posterity. 

Up to the 3^ear 1840 Western Australia remained 
completely isolated from the other colonies, and could 
be approached only by sea. But as that country was 
now being extensively occupied, it was of great 
importance also to the settlers in the south to find an 
overland route from Adelaide, and it was believed the 
time had come when a successful effort could be made. 
The obstacles which barred the way were enormous, 
and for that epoch insuperable ; but so little were 
they suspected by the South Australians that the 
proposed journey was regarded as a pleasure excur- 
sion, and it was considered advisable to lighten the 
expense of the expedition by sending over a quantity 
of stock with the pioneer explorers ! The one man 
Avlio could correct this public delusion was Mr. Eyre, 
for he knew enough of the outlying country to feel 
safe in predicting the failure of the proposed under- 
taking. By both speech and pen he laboured to 

8 



98 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

oppose the misguided enthusiasm, and succeeded in 
preventing a certain waste of treasure and a very 
probable sacrifice of -human life. But it was far 
from his desire to see so much ardour for exploration 
run to waste, and now that the colony was in high 
feather for discovery, Eyre made a successful effort to 
divert it into what he considered a more profitalile 
channel. Very little was yet known of the country 
to the north. Why not strike out in this direction 
now, and make a bold attempt to reach the centre of 
Australia from the city of Adelaide ? One argument 
alone was sufficient, and with it Eyre prevailed. He 
offered to be the leader of the expedition, providing 
one-third of its expense from his own pocket. Nothing 
remained now liut to get on with the preparations. 

On the 20th of June, 1840, a well-provisioned 
party consisting of eight persons, with Eyre in 
command, supported by two other Europeans, Scott 
and Baxter, left Adelaide under favourable auspices, 
and in high hopes of exploring a large portion of the 
interior if more cherished results should prove 
unattainable ; but, as the event proved, only to meet 
with crushing disappointment. Lake Torrens was as 
yet very imj)erfectly known, and Eyre, misled by 
refraction, conceived it to be an immense sheet of 
water in the shape of a horse-shoe, within the bend 
of which he supposed the expedition was being 
entrapped. The curve, in reality, was described by a 
chain of mud lakes partly covered with water, and 
partly encrusted with salt. Passages are now found, 



EYRE. 99 

at intervals, between these mud lagoons, but Eyre 
had not the good luck to hit on one of them. 
Aroused by the energy of despair, he next determined 
to round this impenetrable barrier, and struck out to 
the eastward, for an isolated peak which he called 
Mount Hopeless. The name corresponded to the 
reality, for the outlook from its summit revealed 
nothing but a barren and burning desert, which 
forced the expedition to fall back by a western route 
to the southern coast. 

Headquarters now remained for some time at 
Streaky Bay, on the eastern shoulder of the Great 
Australian Bight. Taking a subdivision of the party, 
he ao-ain and ao-ain endeavoured to round the head of 
the Bight in the hope of finding better country, 
which would open a favourable route towards the 
interior. Here, too, his expectations were baffled in 
this latter respect, and even Eyre had to abandon his 
pet project in utter despair. But he was of too 
<launtless a temperament to brook the idea of re- 
turning to Adelaide without accomplishing something 
worthy of remembrance. His next move was com- 
petent only to a madman or a hero. It was a serious 
attempt to lead an expedition from the encampment 
on Fowler's Bay to King George's Sound, along the 
Great Australian Bight, a journey of more than 1,500 
miles over the worst country under the sun. He 
proposed to proceed with his present party unbroken, 
if Governor Gawler would allow the government 
cutter to advance to Cape Arid, a sort of half-way 



100 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

.station, and there await the expedition, with a supply 
of provisions. The Governor refused the use of the 
vessel in connection with so romantic a proposal, 
except for the purpose of bringing the entire part}- 
back to Adelaide, and so putting an end to what he 
must be excused for regarding as a mad freak. But 
Eyre was a man born to lead, not to be led, and 
determined to stick to his purpose, with help or 
without it. Yet, being conscious of the extreme peril 
that lay on the very face of the undertaking, he 
resolved to risk the sacrifice of no European's life but 
his own, and made preparations to send home Scott 
and Baxter in the cutter. Baxter, an old and faithful 
servant, who had been overseer on Eyre's station, 
persisted in clinging to his master, whether for life or 
death. And, alas ! it was for the latter. The party, 
as thus reduced, consisted of only two white men and 
three black boys, one being an old favourite named 
Wylie. A few horses and sheep, together with a 
limited supply of provisions, made up the sum total of 
the expedition. 

Never before was an enterprise of such over- 
whelming difficulty engaged in by reasonable men. 
This section of the southern coast was yet scarcely 
known. The navigators Nuyts and Flinders had 
cruised over its waters, gazing with mysterious awe 
on its weather-beaten cliffs, rising to the precipitous 
heio-ht of 400 or even 600 feet above the water. At 
intervals along the base the waves had undermined 
this Titanic sea-wall, causing it to fall in many a 



EYRE. 101 

yawning breach, the dehrin of which completely 
obstructed the passage between the rocks and the sea 
in the few places where such a convenience might 
have been previously possible. The crown of these 
cliffs had not yet been trodden by the white man's 
foot, and the reports of the sparse aborigines were 
enough to freeze the ardour of the most adventurous 
in the heroic age of Australian exploration. On this 
border-land of earth and sea contending winds had 
ileposited the dust particles Ijorne on their wings, and 
rolled them together in heaps, to be met with at long 
and dreary intervals. These sand-hills, resting on a 
limestone formation, retained at their base a small 
supply of water, to be reached only by painstaking, 
and often painful, digging. For the greater part of the 
way no other water was to be found on this barren 
and inhospitable region of parched-up Australia. 

From Cape Adieu, where leave had been taken of 
the cutter audits passengers, to the first stage at the 
liead of the Bight, the difficulties were manageable — 
for this part of the route had been traversed and 
supplies hidden for future use — but, this over, they 
had to be faced in all their appalling magnitude. The 
sand-hills were found to l)e so far apart that it was 
impossible to bring the stock from the one to tlio 
other without intermediate supply. When the sheep, 
and sometimes the horses, couM travel no further, one 
or two of the parties had to be left in charge while 
others pushed forward in search of water, and then 
returned with wliat supply they could bring, when the 



102 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLOREES. 

animals were driven on to the station. The dis- 
couragements were infinite and the labour super- 
human. Eyre alone .was equal to the strain, and he 
owed it more to his indomitable spirit than to his 
natural strength. It was a sore trial to perceive even 
Baxter to be giving way and wishing to return ; but 
as this seemed to threaten certain death, he kept to 
his resolution, and persevered against all hope of a 
successful issue, so desperate had the aspect of affairs 
now become. The few sheep having dwindled away 
with ominous rapidity, it had become necessary to 
kill several of the horses and eat them, although they 
furnished little but skin and bone. Matters having 
come to extremities, the baggage had to be reduced to 
the smallest proportions, and most of the valuables 
were thrown away in the wilderness to lighten the 
burden of carriage. Their sufferino-s from want 
of water now became indescribable. Man and beast 
were compelled to travel three or four daj's without 
getting a mouthful. With onl}" one exception, none 
had been found but in the sand-hills for the distance 
of 800 miles, and how hard it was to reach it there 
has already been described. Even the dew on the 
sparse patches of grass was put in requisition, as may 
be learned from the following extract from the journal 
of the expedition : — " Leaving the overseer to search 
for the horses, which had strayed, I took a sponge and 
went to try to collect some of the dew which was 
hanging in spangles on the grass and shrubs. Brush- 
ing these with the sponge, I squeezed it, when 



EYRE. 103 

saturated, into a quart-pot, which in an hour's time I 
filled with water. The native boys were occupied in 
the same way, and, by using a handful of fine grass 
instead of a sponge, they collected about a quart 
among them. Having taken the water to the camp 
and made it into tea, we divided it amongst the party, 
and never was a meal more truly relished, although 
we ate the last morsel of bread we had with us, and 
none knew when we might again enjoy either a drink of 
water or a mouthful of bread. We had now demon- 
strated the practicability of collecting water from the 
dew. I had often heard from the natives that they 
were in the habit of practising this plan, but had 
never before actually witnessed its adoption." 

But the climax was yet to come. To privations 
and difficulties the crime of treachery and murder was 
now to be added. Two of the blacks proved unfaith- 
ful, and shot the overseer, Baxter, in cold blood, 
apparently for the purpose of deserting with as much 
of the provisions as they could lay hands on, perhaps 
after the murder of the leader himself. The words 
in which Eyre describes the anguish of his situation 
exceed the highest efforts of traged}', and show how 
fact may become stranger than fiction. " The night 
was cold, and the wind blowing hard from the south- 
west, whilst scud and nimbus were passing very 
rapidly by the moon. The horses fed tolerably well, 
but rambled a jj^ood deal, threadino- in and out amono; 
the many belts of scrub which intersected the grassy 
openings, until I scarcely knew exactly' where our 



104 THE AUSTIIALIAX EXPLORERS. 

camp was, the fires having apparently expired some 
time ago. It was now half-past ten, and I headed the 
horses back in the direction in which I thought the 
camp lay, that I might be ready to call the overseer 
to relieve me at eleven. Whilst thus engaged and 
looking steadfastly around among the scrub to see if 
I could anywhere detect the embers of our fires, I 
was startled by a sudden flash, followed by the report 
of a gun, not a quarter of a mile away from me. 
Imagining that the overseer had mistaken the hour of 
the night, and not being able to find me or the horses 
had taken that method to attract my attention, I 
immediately called out, but no answer was returned. 
I got alarmed, and, leaving the horses, hurried up 
towards the camp as rapidly as I could. About a 
hundred yards from it I met the King George's Sound 
native (Wylie) running towards me, and in great 
haste and alarm, crying out, ' Oh, Massa ! oh, Massa, 
come here I' but could gain no information from him 
as to what had occurred. Upon reaching the encamp- 
ment, which I did in about five minutes after the 
shot was fired, I was horror-struck to find my poor 
overseer lying on the ground weltering in his blood, 
and in the last agonies of death. Glancing hastily 
around the camp, I found it deserted by the two 
younger native boys, whilst the scattered frag- 
ments of our baggage, which I left carefully piled 
under the oilskin, lay thrown about in wild disorder, 
and at once revealed the cause of the harrowing scene 
before me. Upon raising the body of my faithful 



EYRE. 105 

l)ut ill-fated follower, I found that he was beyond all 
human aid ; he had been shot through the left breast 
with a ball ; the last convulsions of death were upon 
him, and he expired almost immediately after our 
arrival. The frightful, the appalling truth now burst 
upon me that I was alone in the desert. He who 
had faithfully served me for many years, who had 
followed my fortunes in adversity and prosperity, 
who had accompanied me in all my wanderings, and 
whose attachment to me had been his sole inducement 
to remain with me in this last and, to him, alas ! fatal 
journey, was now no more. For an instant, I was 
almost tempted to wish that it had been my fate 
instead of his. The horrors of my situation glared 
upon me in such startling reality as for an instant 
almost to paralyze the mind. At the dead hour of 
night, in the wildest and most inhospitable wastes of 
Australia, with the fierce wind rao-ino- in unison with 
the scene of violence before me, I was left with a 
single native, whose fidelity I could not rely upon, 
and who for auoht I knew mioht be in leaa'ue with 
the otlicr two, who were perhaps even now lurking 
about with the view of taking away my life as they 
had done that of the overseer. Three days had 
passed away since we left tlie last water, and it was 
very doubtful when we might find any more. Six 
hundred miles of country had to be traversed before 
I could hope to obtain the slightest aid or assistance 
of any kind, whilst I knew not that a single drop of 
water or an ounce of Hour had been left by these 



106 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

murderers from a stock tliat had previously been so 
small. Though years have now passed away since 
the enactment of this tragedy, the dreadful horrors 
of that time and scene are recalled before me with 
frightful vividness, and make me shudder when I 
think of them. A lifetime was crowded into those 
few short hours, and death alone may blot out the 
impression they produced." 

To give decent burial to the body of a friend 
whom death only could separate would h&ve been a 
melancholy satisfaction, but even this slight tribute 
of affection was denied by the situation. No grave 
could be dug, for sheet-rock, stretching far and wide, 
formed the adamantine pavement of this horrible 
place. Wrapt in a blanket for its winding-sheet, the 
corj)se was left in this lonely wilderness, where it lay 
undisturbed till it was stumbled on quite recently by 
the district mailman. On a calmer view of the 
position, Eyre discovered that the ruffians had left 
him only forty pounds of flour, a little tea and sugar, 
and four gallons of water. Such was the provision 
for two men against a journey of 600 miles! 
Nothing, however, could be gained by delay in this 
awful scene, and every consideration counselled an 
immediate departure — most of all, the knowledge that 
the two murderers were skulking in the neighbour- 
hood with the probable design of taking Eyre's life. 
A start was made without further loss of time. 
Another horse was killed for food, but the animal 
having been poor and sickly, its flesh did not agree 



EYEE. 107 

with them, and ill health supervened. When thus 
brought face to face with the last extremity, a sudden 
vision of deliverance nearly overwhelmed them with 
joy. Coming unexpectedly on an opening in the 
Bight, first a boat and then a ship at anchor rushed 
upon the view. A closer acquaintance proved the 
apparition to be a French whaling-vessel, under 
the command of Captain Rossiter, whose name is 
fittingly perpetuated in the same little bay. The 
unlooked-for visitors were hospitably entertained 
and lodged for twelve days in the ship, till they 
were sufficiently recruited for the remainder of 
the journey. With rencAved strength, and a fresh 
supply of provisions, the march through the desert 
was once more resumed, for the indomitable explorer 
would not even yet abandon the project. Though 
hardship had now lost its sting, more difficulties had 
yet to be encountered than might have been expected, 
but they were of a different kind from the preceding. 
Water became only too plentiful, for a wet season had 
set in, and the travellers had often to wade rather than 
to walk. But the end of this terrible journey drew on 
apace. To their unspeakable joy the mountains on 
the further side of King George's Sound began to 
loom in the distance, and Wylie, who was a natixe 
of that district, noAV for the first time showed some 
confidence in his leader, whom he never expected 
to bring him back to his home. The welcome 
sight, in trutli, inspired l)oth the black and the white 
man with fresli life ; for tlu'v had to make onlv one 



108 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

more effort, and, this over, their weary feet found rest 
in the liospitable settlement of Albany. The heroic 
endurance displayed- during this journey stands 
without a parallel in history, but it led to nothing but 
a barren triumph over stupendous difficulties. Had 
Eyre kept further inland he would have found a 
better route and opened up a more profitable country. 
This discovery had to wait for another and more 
fortunate explorer. The present expedition, by 
hugging the shore, travelled over a tract of country 
that was seen to be utterly useless for the wants of 
civilization. So patent was this fact to Mr. Eyre 
himself that he justified the publication of his 
narrative by the strange argument that no one had 
traversed this wilderness before and he was perfectly 
sure none would ever do it again. 

Henceforward Edward John Eyre was known to 
fame — but not to fortune. Being subsequently 
appointed Governor of Jamaica, he fell heir to an 
upheaval of disorder, which culminated in open 
rebellion. This insurrection Eyre put dowm with an 
iron hand. Some accused him of needless severity, 
while others justified his conduct as an act of 
imperative necessity. The hero-worshipper, the late 
Thomas Carlyle, defended him bravely, and was 
seconded by many sympathizers of less note, who 
came to the rescue with pen and purse. This perilous 
journey of former years was justly pleaded in Mr. 
Eyre's favour, but his friends weakened their case by 
confounding the Great Australian Bioht with the 



EYRE. 109 

Gulf of Carpentaria ! Though exonerated by a 
commission of inquiry, the Governor was recalled, and 
for four years thereafter harassed by a bitter prosecu- 
tion, which he probably found harder to endure than 
his terrible journey on the Great Australian Bight. 



110 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

SIR THOMAS Mitchell's four expeditions. 

This eminent explorer was a native of Scotland, 
having been born at Craigend, Stirlingshire, in 1792. 
He chose the army for his profession, and served 
under Wellington, in the Peninsular war, from 1808 
till its close. His career appears to have been a most 
creditable one. He had a hand in laying out the 
famous Torres Vedras lines, which gave a fatal check 
to the ambition of Napoleon. Mitchell left the service 
with the rank of Major, receiving also a medal and 
five clasps. Having emigrated to New South Wales, 
he was appointed Surveyor-General, an office which 
had fallen vacant by the death of Mr. John Oxley. 
Being an active and adventurous man, he threw him- 
self, heart and soul, into the cause of exploration. 
Mitchell was the most successful of all the explorers, 
and had the good fortune to open up the magnificent 
territory which now forms the colony of Victoria. 
He was the leader of four great expeditions, which 
shall now be briefly related in the order of their 
occurrence. 



Among the notabilities of tlie old convict days there 
are not many who will be longer remembered than 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. Ill 

George Clarke, better known, in his own time, as 
" George the Barber." This runaway convict having 
taken to biishranofing; and cattle-stealino- as natu- 
rally as the duck makes for the water, had also 
shown himself an adept in the arts which elude the 
detective. Passing beyond the bounds of settlement, 
which had now extended 800 miles to the north 
of Sydney, he fixed his headquarters and erected a 
stockyard for stolen cattle on the further side of the 
Liverpool Plains. Here he abjured the last vestige of 
civilization and associated himself with the aborigines, 
havino; become a conformist in the first deo-ree. He 
doffed every article of clothing, blackened his skin, 
and even scarified his flesh, in order to appear a naked 
savage pure and simple. But the compliment does 
not seem to have been reciprocated. He was success- 
ful, indeed, in gaining the hearts of two black gins, 
who followed him and his fortunes as far as fate 
would permit ; but the sable brotherhood did not take 
kindly to the intruder. Hearing he was wanted by 
the police to answer for his cattle-stealing propen- 
sities, they lent a hand to the progress of civilization, 
and delivered up this spurious brother, who was forth- 
with lodo-ed in Bathurst S!:aol, Of all the men in 
the world this runaway convict, who had enjoyed the 
sweets of liberty, both in the savage and the civilized 
life, would be the last to brook the restraints of con- 
finement, and it is no surprise to find him casting 
about for the means of deliverance. The most 
feasible way of accomplishing his ol)ject undoubtedly 



112 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Itiy in the plan which his native cunning led him to 
adopt. Popular excitement was then at fever heat on 
the exploration of the unknown territory. Sturt had 
recently returned from an expedition in which he 
had opened up more than 2,000 miles of country on 
the lower Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, and had, 
consequently, given a great impulse to the exploring 
enterprise. Now was the time for " George the 
Barber " to tell his secret from Bathurst oaol. Havinof 
passed beyond a range of mountains to the north- 
ward of the Liverpool Plains, so his story ran, he had 
discovered a magnificent river which the natives 
called the " Kindur." It traversed a splendid country, 
was itself navigable throughout, and having followed 
its course on two different occasions, it led him 
through the heart of Australia to the north coast, 
without ever turning to the south. Men readily 
believe what they wish to be true, and such a river as 
here described was the very thing wanted in order to 
open up a waterway to Carpentaria. The story 
accordingly commanded general attention, and most 
people believed it contained a sufficient degree of 
verisimilitude to warrant the expense of a special 
exploring expedition to put it to the proof. 

Major Mitchell was now in the place where he 
would feel the impulse for exploration with all its 
force, and so fell in most heartily with the popular 
excitement. Putting the most favourable construc- 
tion upon the " Barber's " story, and believing that it 
contained, at least, a substratum of truth, he expressed 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 113 

his readiness to go in search of the " Kindur," provided 
the Acting-Governor, Sir Patrick Lindsay, would 
supply the necessary outfit. This request was readily 
granted, and Major Mitchell left Sydney on the 24th 
November, 1831, to run a wild-goose chase or make a 
great discovery. It was not necessary to organize the 
expedition before starting, as the country was now 
settled so far to the north, and final arrangements 
were accordingly postponed till a nearer approach was 
made to the unknown land. The early part of the 
journey was pretty much in the style of a pleasure 
excursion. The would-be explorer of the " Kindur " 
passed northward to Parramatta, where he was shown, 
as a great novelty, the first olive-tree planted in the 
colony. The Hawkesbury was crossed at Wiseman's 
Ferry, and in due course the Wollombi, a tributary 
of the Hunter, was reached. Soon after he proceeded 
to make up his party, which, when completed, 
consisted of two gentlemen volunteers, named White 
and Finch, and fifteen convicts, all of whom, the 
leader avers, were ready to face fire and water in 
the hope of regaining that liberty which tlie}' liad 
forfeited by transgressing the laws of their country. 
The expedition having been thus organized and 
supplied with every requisite, moved northward, 
passing near Muswellbrook, and crossing the Hunter 
without meeting with anything particularly wortliy 
of notice, until they came upon the burning hill of 
Wingen, which attracted their attention as a re- 
markable curiosity. It is not a volcano, but a 

9 



114 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

mountain of coal or shale, on fire underneath, whicli 
sends forth volumes of smoke through the rents in 
its surface. On the 5th of December the ascent 
of the Liverpool Range was gained and a com- 
manding view of the plains obtained. This fine tract 
of country had been discovered by Oxley, explore<l 
by Cunningham, and was now found to be largely 
occupied by pioneer squatters. The Peel River was 
struck at Wallamoul, about two miles above the spot 
where Oxley had first crossed it, and here was found 
the last station, owned by a squatter of the name of 
Brown, and containing 1,600 head of cattle. The 
route of the expedition was now directed towards the 
lower course of the river, where it becomes known 
under the native name of the Namoi. The euphonious 
" Namoi " was music to the ear of Mitchell, for the 
bushranger had spoken of a river of this name, and 
was the first to make it known under this designation. 
The Major was gratified to find this slight confirma- 
tion of the story that had brought him so far from 
home, and hastened to make it known to the 
authorities in Sydney, that " George the Barber " 
might have the benefit ; and a real benefit it was, for 
it saved him from the gallows. Having failed to 
obtain his liberty when his information was acted on, 
this noted criminal, in his desperation, succeeded in 
sawing the irons off" his feet, and in this way made good 
his escape from incarceration. But the law has long- 
arms, and the " Barber," being again clutched within 
their iron grasp, was condemned to sufler the last 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 115 

penalty, from which doom he was saved by the 
timely arrival of Mitchell's letter. 

The terra incognita now was entered upon, and the 
first object that drew the attention of the explorers 
was the old stockyard of the bushranger, which, 
doubtless, was too near a neighbour of Brown's cattle 
station. About two miles distant the Pic of Tangulda 
rose to a conspicuous elevation. This was one of the 
landmarks of the prisoner's tale. The " Kindur" was 
to be reached by proceeding north-east, over a range 
of mountains which were visible from this position. 
Mitchell directed his march accordingly ; but, after 
several days of distressing travel, found the moun- 
tains to be impracticable, and was compelled to return 
to his former camp. Now, for the first time, grave 
doubts began to fill his mind regarding the truth of 
the convict's story. No other course being open, he 
determined on launching a canvas boat and making 
an effort to sail down the Namoi, to see what fortune 
had in store for him. The attempt was scarcely well 
made when it had to be abandoned, on account of 
snags and shoals in the stream ; but the change of 
position was sufficient to make it apparent that the 
mountain-chain which could not be crossed might now 
be turned. This achievement was next successfully 
accomplished, and Mitchell at length found himself on 
their northern flanks. These mountains bore the 
native name of " Nundawar," and, in respect of their 
outward appearance, had been described sufficiently 
well l)y the bushranger. But now came the crucial 



116 THE AUSTRALIAX EXPLORERS. 

test of his truth or falsehood. According to the same 
story the " Kindur" was the first river to be reached 
beyond these mountains, and, one way or other, the 
question could not now have long to wait for an answer. 
A river of some kind was the very thing wanted by 
the explorers, for they had passed through a rugged 
and waterless country. Were they now, at last, to 
drop upon the "Kindur?" Such a discovery would 
have been doubly welcome, for it would have relieved 
them from present distress, and proved the goal of a 
journey which, it was hoped, would place the laurel 
crown on the brow of the Major and sound the trumpet 
of freedom to his fifteen convict attendants. The 9th 
of January arrived, and this day was destined to feast 
the eyes of the weary travellers with the sudden 
appearance of a noble river, broader and deeper than 
the Namoi, and one of which Australia might well be 
proud. Was this the " Kindur" at last ? Not for a 
moment. It fiowed in the wrong direction, and lost 
much of its volume in its downward course ; and 
Mitchell soon satisfied himself that it was nothing else 
than one of the many tributaries of the Darling. In 
fact, it had not the merit of an original discovery. 
This was the Gwydir, which had been crossed long 
aofo by Allan Cunninoham. Mitchell turned from it 
in disgust and made for the north, in the hope of 
hitting upon some discovery really worthy of the 
expedition. He was rewarded, in so far that he 
discovered an important river, called the Karaula by 
the natives, but now better known as the Macintyre. 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 117 

further exploration proved this stream to be one of 
the head-waters of the Darling, and, therefore, useless 
for the purpose of one who was seeking a water- 
channel to the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

Mitchell's only hope of retrieving himself now lay- 
in crossing the Darling, and making an inroad upon 
the interior; but the feasibility of this course was 
suspended on a doubtful contingency. Fearing his 
provisions would not hold out so long as would be 
necessary, he had, before leaving the Peel River, sent 
Finch back to the Hunter district for fresh supplies, 
and the future of the expedition depended on 
this forlorn hope. Finch returned about the time 
expected, but only to bring a tale of disaster instead 
of a supply of provisions. All had gone well till 
they had got beyond the Liverpool Plains, when 
water began to fail them. Finch had gone on to 
search the country in advance, and on returning 
found his party murdered and the camp sacked. 
This was a crowning calamity. Mitchell, of course, 
now saw that it would l)e impossible to proceed 
further, and it was even very doubtful whether they 
could return in safety. A wet season was setting in, 
and 200 miles of flooded country lay between them 
and their homes. Their return, accordingly, was con- 
ducted after the manner of a retreating army, and 
the similitude was all the more striking because they 
were harassed by hostile tribes of aborigines. But 
the settlied districts were soon reached, and there was 
no further difficulty in making Port Jackson. It 



118 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

was, indeed, a disappointment to the authorities, as it 
had been to Mitchell, to find they had been duped by 
" George the Barber." Yet the expedition had opened 
up a vast extent of pastoral country, and on the 
whole was fairly successful as an exploring enterprise. 



II. 

Major Mitchell, full of enterprise, was again in the 
held of discovery in 1835. His failure in the affair 
of the " Kindur" had not discouraged him, and the 
experience incidentally gained was an excellent 
preparation for the more arduous work of the future. 
Public attention had again turned from the north to 
the westward of the colony, and another attempt was 
to be made to lift the veil which still shrouded so 
much of the interior. At the request of the British 
Government, Mitchell willingly undertook the conduct 
of an expedition to the Bogan and the Darling, in 
order to set at rest some geographical problems which 
were still attached to the course of these rivers. 

More than any of the other explorers, Mitchell 
believed in large and liberally equipped expeditions^ 
here probably erring by excess, and he resolved that 
the present should not be deficient in either respect. 
The party, all told, consisted of twenty-four persons — 
Major Mitchell as leader, E-ichard Cunningham, brother 
to the more celebrated Allan Cunningham, botanist 
and explorer, a young surveyer of the name of Larmer, 
and twenty-one convict servants, nine of whom 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 119 

had been connected with the " Kindur " search. The 
material resources consisted of two boats, several 
drays, a good contingent of horses, bullocks, and sheep, 
together with an ample supply of provisions. The 
start was made from Parramatta on the 9th of March ; 
but the work of exploration proper did not commence 
till they reached Buree, a frontier station near Mount 
Canobolas, about 170 miles from Sydney. 

Having taken his observations from the summit of 
this mountain, Mitchell fixed his direction on the 
bearing of 60" west of north, judging he would thus 
find a practicable route, and strike the Bogan some- 
where in its upper course. The result answered his 
expectation. On the 18th of April he crossed the 
Goobang, a tributary of the Lachlan, and in two days 
more the Bogan was reached. Here a most lamentable 
event occurred, which cast its dark shadow over the 
whole of their future wanderings. Richard Cunning- 
ham, the botanist of the expedition, had been too much 
in the practice of leaving the party for the " pursuit 
of flora," and now failed to find his way back to the 
camp. For a long time no trace of the missing man 
could be found ; but after a most diligent search tracks 
both of himself and of liis horse were observed. These 
were followed for 70 miles, but to no purpose ; dis- 
tressing suspicions also began to arise, pointing to foul 
play on the part of the natives. But nothing definite 
could be arrived at, and after a fortnight's fruitless 
searching and tracking, the expedition was sorrowfully 
compelled to hold on its course. SubsiM^uciitly it was 



120 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

decisively ascertained that Cunningham, ready to 
perish of hunger and thirst, had sought refuge with 
the blacks, by four of whom he was savagely mur- 
dered in his sleep. A full investigation was made by 
Captain Zouch, who had been despatched from Sydney 
on this business. He succeeded in discovering the 
dead man's bones, which were decently interred, and 
a suitable monument was erected on the scene of this 
diabolical murder. Three of the perpetrators of the 
crime were also arrested; but, through the remissness 
of the constable in charge, two of them managed to 
escape. 

The explorers still kept the line of the Bogan, 
moving off and on to its banks according as the want 
of water, or the desire to cut off an observed elbow, 
more particularly directed their course. By the 20th 
of May the expedition had arrived at the Pink 
Hills, where the best grazing land was met with since 
the commencement of the journey. From this point 
Oxley's Table-land, a well-known landmark with 
former explorers, was plainly visible. On the 25th 
they were gratified by the discovery of the junction of 
the Bogan and the Darling rivers. The former of 
these, though only now brought into prominent notice, 
had been known to exist for many years past. It was 
first discovered by Hamilton Hume in connection with 
Sturt's expedition to the Macquarie, and was then 
called New Year's Creek. Much later its upper course 
had been traced by a Mr. Dixon for G7 miles, and the 
exploration of its whole length was thus completed by 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 121 

Major Mitchell in 1835. The Bogan was found to 
head from the Her^^ey Range, and this explorer had 
the good fortune to discover its termination in the 
Darling River after a sinuous course of 250 miles. At 
best it is only a third or fourth-class river ; but, as it 
traverses a tolerably good grazing country, its basin 
lias become fully occupied for squatting purposes. 

The junction of these two rivers now became an 
important landmark for the remainder of the journey, 
And the place has ever since played a conspicuous 
part in the opening up and settlement of the back 
-country. The position consists of an elevated plateau 
overlooking a reach of the river a mile and a half in 
length, with a hill situated near a sharp turn at the 
lower end of the reach. Having now travelled 500 
miles from Sydney, the whole party were in need of 
rest, and Mitchell wisely resolved on fixing a per- 
manent depot here. Intending to leave some of his men 
while engaged in the exploration of the lower course 
of the river, he considered it an act of prudence to 
<inclose the depot with a stockade, as he was not yet 
sufficiently acquainted with the natives of the Darling 
to trust them with any degree of confidence. A 
stockade was accordingly constructed of rough logs, 
and to this, his first attempt at bush fortification, he 
gave the name of Fort Bourkc, in compliment to the 
(Jovernor of the colony. Such was the beginning of 
Bourke, the now famous centre of our back country 
.settlement, and the present terminus of the Great 
Western luiilway of New South Wales. 



122 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Two boats, as already noticed, had been brought all 
the way from Sydney as part of the furniture of the 
expedition, and the time seemed to have arrived for 
their being; turned to account. Being; found to be in 
perfect order they were forthwith christened the 
Discovery and the Resolution, and launched on the 
feeble current of the Darlmg. But hope was excited 
to no purpose. The stream was too low and the 
channel too much impeded to permit of navigation 
even with the smallest craft, and the undertaking' 
was no sooner initiated than it had to be abandoned. 
The former plan of the expedition had again to be 
adopted, and the progress on the Darling was very 
similar to what it had been on the Bogan. The 
country traversed was found to be inferior as a 
whole, only moderately valuable for pastoral pur- 
poses, and nowhere adapted for agriculture to any 
considerable extent. The incidents in this part of the 
march were neither numerous nor striking. The 
usual privations arising from want of water were 
hardly known, as the explorers were never far from 
the banks of a running stream which takes rank 
among the foremost in Australia. The saltness of the 
Darling, which proved such an inconvenience to 
Sturt, was found by Mitchell to exist in a much 
less degree, which shows that it must have arisen in 
part from temporary causes. 

If Mitchell's narrative is not so rich in thrilling 
incidents as a sensational reader could have wished, 
it is especially valuable as a record of the manners 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 123 

and customs of the aborigines of those districts, as 
they appeared to the eye of this intelligent and 
observant traveller. Sometimes the description is so 
life-like that we are almost cheated into the belief of 
a visible reality, and it is impossible to be indifferent 
to the exhibition, although the whole race has now 
well-nigh passed away. The account is very generally 
the reverse of Captain Sturt's, notwithstanding that 
both of these eminent explorers must have had in 
view substantially the same tribes. The judicious 
reader will scarcely be disposed to agree unreservedly 
with the Captain when he depicts them as the " most 
miserable wretches " under the sun ; neither will he 
care to subscribe to the unqualified language of the 
Major, who describes them as " happy " savages. 
Truth seldom lies in extremes, and it is to the utmost 
extreme that these authorities have gone, each in his 
own way, as determined largely, perhaps, by his idio- 
syncrasies. But the ethnologist, in particular, will 
be thankful for the literary photograph of these 
vanishing tribes which has been preserved in the 
[)ages of this journal. The general reader, too, will 
gladly observe some curious incidents of aboriginal 
life in the interior of Australia. Mitchell specially 
notices their adroitness in procuring the wild honey 
of the bush. With great tact they first attached a 
piece of light down to the bee, which, on being re- 
leased, would be sure to make straight for its nest. 
To discover this secret, the blackfellow enijafred in 
hot pursuit ; and, as his e3'e must be constantly on 



124 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the tiny insect, there would, of course, be frequent 
tripping, and many an awkward fall on mother earth, 
but the excitement was too great to permit of any- 
thing short of a serious accident being noticed. 
Another characteristic of the untutored savages was 
their unwillingness to recomize the rio-ht of a white 
man to hold property — it was all meum and no tuum 
with them. For a while Mitchell tried to satisfy 
them with liberal gifts, but giving only increased the 
craving for more; and, what was worse, this liberality 
on the part of the strangers began to be construed as 
an indication of fear, and then the demands were more 
impudently pressed than ever, which caused these 
gifts, very properly, to cease altogether. And now 
their thieving propensities broke out beyond all 
bounds. Mitchell, like Apollo when Mercury filched 
his bow, hardly knew whether to smile at the 
adroitness of the thief or wax indignant at the loss 
of his property. The cunning, craft, and success of 
these barbarians went almost beyond credence. Not 
only their hands were busy, but their very feet and 
toes picked up the strangers' tools as they walked 
over them. This latter practice was considered a real 
accomplishment, and these savages seemed to have a 
genuine contempt for the clumsy white-fellows who 
could not use their "feet fino-ers." Barrino- this 
troublesome propensity, the native tribes did not 
cause much inconvenience to the expedition until 
it got as far down the Darling as the Menindie 
quarter, where a serious embroglio occurred, which 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 125 

occasioned the shedding of aboriginal blood, and com- 
pelled the explorers to desist from the further prose- 
cution of their journey. For this untoward event, 
however, Mitchell was not to blame, and he regretted 
he had to deal with convicts who were so difficult to 
control. The local tribes having thus become exas- 
perated, a somewhat hasty retreat had to be made to 
the central depot at Bourke, after 300 miles of the 
Darling had been traversed, and little doubt being- 
left as to the remainder of the course till the junction 
with the Murray. 

III. 

The exploration and settlement of Victoria are 
quite recent events in the history of Australia. 
Important discoveries had been made on the seaboard 
by Bass and Flinders in the close of the last and the 
beginning of the present century ; but they had no 
effect in attracting population. Hume and Ho veil 
made an overland journey from Lake George to Port 
Phillip in 1824, and brought to light an enormous 
extent of fine territory near the southern coast ; yet 
tlio country remained unvisited by civilization for 
another ten or twelve years. The original settlers 
came from Tasmania, and were crowded out of the 
old rather than attracted to the new home. The first 
arri\'al seems to have been Edward Henty, who 
etiectcd a settlement at Portland Bay in 1834. Next 
year John Batman, a native of Parramatta, who liad 
latterly resided in Tasmania, crossed Bass' Strait, and 



126 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

fixed his headquarters on Indented Head. He 
bargained with the natives for GOO.OOO acres of the 
best land in exchange for a few blankets, knives, and 
such-like commodities. He was followed in three 
months' time by another of the name of Fawkner, 
who, leaving " King John " in undisputed possession 
of Indented Head, pitched his tent on the site of the 
present city of Melbourne. 

So much and nothing more was accomplished in 
the settlement of the premier part of Australia, when 
Major Mitchell crossed the Murray, and astonished 
the world by a series of .splendid discoveries in what 
is now the famous colony of Victoria. The surprise 
was the more telling on this account, that the revela- 
tions resulted from a mere accident, and were aside 
from the proper object of the expedition. The explora- 
tions of Mitchell during the preceding year, which had 
so largely supplemented the earlier discoveries of Sturt 
on the Darling, very naturally excited public interest, 
and created a desire for another expedition. The 
River Darling was now pretty well known, with the 
exception of about 200 miles from Menindie to the 
junction with the Murray ; but this latter river was 
not yet explored higher up than its confluence with 
the Murrumbidgee. These two objects being now to 
be prosecuted, instructions were given to Major 
Mitchell to organize another expedition ; and into 
this project, it is needless to say, the gallant Major 
entered with his accustomed enthusiasm. 

This expedition, numbering twenty-four persons. 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 127 

amply provisioned, and destined to be the most 
fortunate in the annals of exploration, left the 
rendezvous near Mount Canobolas, on the outskirts of 
settlement, on the 17th of March, 1836. The first 
movement was made towards the old position at the 
station of Buree, and then the route was followed to 
the Lachlan. This river, as well as the Murrumbidgee, 
which was reached on its lower course, had previously 
been explored, and Mitchell had not much to add 
that was new or striking. When he conceived he was 
approaching the junction with the Murray, a depot 
was formed beside an excellent sheet of water, to 
which the name of Lake Stapylton was given. 
Mitchell now divided his party, and, taking an escort, 
struck out boldly for the Darling, which was still 100 
miles distant. The usual difficulties of this kind of 
travelling were encountered ; but no one knew better 
how to overcome them than this intrepid explorer. 
The junction of the two chief rivers of Australia 
was reached without loss of time — a position which 
Mitchell says he recognized at once from a drawing 
of Captain Sturt's. This compliment Sturt duly 
acknowledged, remarking at the same time that it 
was the only praise he had ever received from Sir 
Thomas Mitchell, and he was afraid in this case it was 
not very well deserved, as the drawing had been made 
from a verbal description, and by an Edinburgh 
clergyman who had never visited Australia ! Tlie 
expedition was in great danger here from an 
exasperated tribe of blacks who kept hanging upon 



128 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the rear, and only waited for an opportunity to strike 
a decisive blow. The aspect of matters was sa 
threatening that Mitchell resolved to abandon the 
Darling, and fall back upon his alternative instruc- 
tions, which directed him to explore the upper 
courses of the Murray. But the hostile tribe was 
now between his own party and the depot, which was 
100 miles away. Their number was rapidly increas- 
ing, and their attitude growing more menacing every- 
day. A conflict could not be much longer averted, 
and Mitchell, as a military man, was not willing to 
allow the enemy to choose the most suitable time for 
the attack. The men under his command appear to 
have understood his intentions, and, without waitino- 
for orders, fired upon the tribe. Seven were killed, 
and the multitude dispersed. It was a severe remedy, 
but also a very effectual one, for this tribe never 
attempted to cause them further annoyance. 

On arriving at Lake Stapylton, Mitchell had the 
satisfaction of finding that the depot had been un- 
molested, a circumstance which relieved his mind from 
considerable anxiety. The situation of the depot was 
ascertained to be about ten miles from the junction of 
the Murrumbidgee with the Murray. The latter was 
crossed about a mile higher up, and the united exepdi- 
tion started again with the intention of exploring this 
interesting but unknown river. From this purpose 
they were soon diverted by the discovery of an im- 
portant tributary, which seemed to lead them into 
a better country than the Murray was likely to do. 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 129 

After losing or leavini; this creek another was dis- 
covered, of still greater importance, to which Mitchell 
gave the name of the Loddon, from the marked 
resemblance he thought it possessed to its namesake in 
the old home. The country consisted of open downs, 
and was the richest Mitchell had seen since he had 
left Sydney. The plains were covered with anthi- 
stirium, or kangaroo ffrass, which bent under the breeze 
like a field of oats. The country was so lightly 
timbered that the explorers could scarcely find fuel to 
make a fire at several of their places of encampment. 
This district also yielded many new and beautiful 
plants, which greatly enriched the botanical collec- 
tion. Mitchell next ascended Mount Hope, a peak 
which he so named because he expected to obtain a 
\'iew of the southern ocean from its summit. This 
anticipation was not realized, but he enjoyed the 
prospect of an unlimited reach of the class of country 
he had already discovered. Another hill, called the 
Pyramid, from its peculiar form, afibrded also an 
excellent view, and raised in Mitchell a transport of 
joy. He could scarcely find words to describe the 
magnificence of the scene, or express the delight he 
felt on account of his own good fortune. " The scene," 
says he, " was different from anything I had ever 
before witnessed, either in New South Wales, or else- 
where — a land so inviting, and still without inhabitants. 
As I stood, the first intruder on the sublime solitude 
of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by fiocks or 
herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of many 

10 



130 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

changes there ; for our steps would soon be followed 
by the men and the animals for which it seemed to be 
prepared." And again — " We had at length discovered 
a country ready for the immediate reception of civil- 
ized man, and lit to become eventually one of the great 
nations of the earth. Unencumbered with too much 
wood, yet possessing enough for all purposes; with an 
exuberant soil under a temperate climate ; bounded by 
the sea-coast and mighty rivers, and watered abun- 
dantly by streams from lofty mountains, this highly 
interesting region lay before me, with all its features 
new and untouched as they fell from the hands of the 
Creator. Of this Eden it seemed I was the only 
Adam ; and it was indeed a sort of paradise to me, 
permitted thus to be the first to explore its mountains 
and streams — to behold its scenery — to investigate its 
geological character — and finally, by my survey, to 
develop those natural advantages all still unknown 
to the civilized world, but yet certain to become at no 
distant date of vast importance to a new people." No 
prophet ever spoke truer words than these. 

Soon after the Loddon, the Avoca and the Avon 
Water were discovered. These streams irrigated the 
same kind of country as that which had lately been 
traversed. This tract was evidently an exception to 
a rule which prevails throughout Australia. Good 
land is usually poorly supplied with water, while well- 
watered country is generally of little account in point 
of fertility ; but here for once was a district which 
was equally distinguished for the abundance of its 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 131 

streams and the excellence of its soil. The explorei-s 
now took a direction more to the eastward, to reach 
a lofty mountain-chain which appeared to be about 
40 miles distant. This range forms a division between 
the northern and the southern waters, and is really the 
extremity of the coast range. Mitchell called these 
the Grampians, from a supposed resemblance to a chain 
of the same name in the Southern Highlands of Scot- 
land. Taking two of his best men, he next ascended 
Mount William, a peak wliich rises 4,500 feet above 
the sea and is the highest in the group. The weather 
being unfavourable to the object in view, it was found 
necessary to spend a miserably cold night upon its 
summit, and the exposure permanently injured the 
health of his two companions, who had followed the 
explorer on three expeditions. An excellent view was 
obtained at last, and another great landmark, Mount 
Arapiles, was fixed upon as the next object toward 
which they were to move. This was a bold and 
isolated mountain lying westward of the range. Five 
streams had to be crossed in passing over the inter- 
mediate tract, and these were subsequently found to 
unite and form the Wimmera. It was hoped this 
important river would lead them to the ocean, but it 
turned to the northward and flowed into the interior. 
The tract of country next discovered presented a very 
singular aspect. The surface, as far as the eye could 
reach, was studded with lakes, which differed greatly 
in size, but were circular in form. Tlieir number 
must have been prodigious ; from one point of view 



132 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

no fewer than twenty-seven were counted. Most of 
these circular lakes were brackish to the taste, and 
many too salt to be fit for use. 

The extremity of the Grampians had now been 
reached, and the range was being successfully turned, 
when the explorers saw before them a fine open 
country, trending away towards the Southern Ocean. 
The travelling was often heavy on the soft soil, and 
they had to be satisfied with six miles a day as the 
average rate of progress ; nevertheless, the object in 
view w^as being steadily accomplished, and no country 
was ever traversed which was richer in the charming 
incidents of travel. July the 31st was a red-letter day 
for Mitchell, for it brought the welcome discovery of 
a fine river, which led the party to the breakers of the 
Southern Ocean. Its width was 120 feet, with an aver- 
age depth of 12 feet, and from first to last it continued 
to flow through the most picturesque scenery. The 
discoverer gave it the name of the Glenelg, in compli- 
ment to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The 
track of the expedition kept as closely as possible to 
the left bank of the river, which with many windings 
was found to be steadily making southward. One of 
the most remarkable features of the Glenelg is the 
number of feeders which it receives from both sides of 
its basin. These occasionally flowed through deep 
ravines, which made travelling difiicult for the drays. 
But the scenery is described as being exquisite. 
Mitchell put the English language on the rack to 
make it express his conception of the lovely scenes 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 133 

which daily met his eye. Either of the valleys of the 
Wando or the Wannon might well pass for a modern 
Tempe'. On the 12th of August the Rifle Eange was 
reached, and from one of the heights Mount Gambler, 
near Cape Northumberland, was plainly seen, and this 
was accepted as sufficient evidence that the sea could 
not be very far distant. After receiving another 
tributary, which was named the Stokes, the river, 
affected also by the proximity to the ocean, became so 
much increased in size as to induce Mitchell to launch 
the boat which had been brought from Sydney. A 
depot was accordingly formed at this position which 
was called Fort O'Hare. Mitchell took two-thirds of 
his men, and, after a few days' pleasant sail, landed 
safely at the mouth of the Glenelg. 

Before returning to Sydney it was thought advis- 
able to make a short journey to Portland Bay, for the 
sake of examining the intervening country. In this 
excursion various streams were discovered and 
crossed, such as the Crawford, the Fitzroy, and the 
Surrey ; and the prominent peaks, Ellerslie, Clay, and 
Kincaid, were ascended or sighted. The country 
generally was swampy in the flats, and poor in the 
higher o-rounds, until Portland was reached, where 
the soil was found to be of the best possible descrip- 
tion. Here a great surprise was in store for the 
explorers. They had stumbled by mere chance on the 
newly-formed station of Edward Henty, from Tas- 
mania, who generously supplied them with provisions 
for the homeward journey. 



134 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Going still forward, Mitchell kept for a con- 
siderable time on the southern fall of the range, in 
the hope of finding -a pass which would be generally 
available. Such an opening he was fortunate enough 
to discover, near the foot of Mount Byng, which he 
safely passed through, barring an accident to his 
travelling gear. While this was being repaired, he 
made an excursion to a prominent height about 30 
miles to the south, in the hope of being able to catch 
a glimpse of Port Phillip, and thus enable him to 
connect his surveys with this important position. To 
this height he gave the name of Mount Macedon, and 
from its summit was able to observe some of the 
topographical features of what is now the site, or the 
immediate neio-hbourhood, of Melbourne, and also 
white sails or tents, which most likely were the 
encampments of Batman and Fawkner, who had been 
in their new home only a few months. 

In returning, the Campaspe River was discovered, 
and other tributaries of the Murray, made known by 
Hume and Ho^'ell, were crossed without difficulty. 
The most serious obstacle was the passage of the 
Murray ; but it was passed without accident or mis- 
hap, although it was 80 yards in width. Some rugged 
country had to be encountered before the Murrum- 
bido'ee was crossed. But this was the ulthnus labor 
of the expedition, for the settled territory had now 
been reached. Mitchell accordingly reckoned this 
outpost the termination of his journey ; and it had 
not been a short one. He had travelled over 2,400 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 135 

miles of country, and was seven months in the bush. 
But he had been more fortunate than any of his 
predecessors ; nor, indeed, has his success been eclipsed 
to this day. For this splendid service he was 
worthily rewarded with the honour of knighthood 
from the British Crown. 



IV. 

The good fortune which had followed Sir Thomas 
Mitchell throughout his three earlier expeditions did 
not forsake him during this one, which proved to be the 
last and most arduous of the series. It was his ambition 
this time to cross the continent and open an overland 
route to the distant Carpentaria. Of all men living, 
he w^as the most likely to accomplish this task. He 
did not, indeed, attain the desire of his heart, but in 
all other respects his expedition was eminently suc- 
cessful, and forms a memorable epoch in the history of 
exploration. The party mustered at the old rendezvous 
of Buree, in the Western District, which, tliough no 
longer the outpost of settlement, was yet a convenient 
starting-point. Mitchell chose for his second in com- 
mand Mr. Edmund B. Kennedy, the unfortunate ex- 
plorer who, several years later, was killed by the blacks 
when leading a disastrous expedition in Cape York 
Peninsula. The rest of the party were mostly convicts 
from Port Jackson, who had volunteered their services 
in the hope of obtaining their freedom. The little army, 
consisting of two dozen able-bodied men, amply pro^•i- 



136 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

sioned, left Buree on the 15th of December, 1845. 
The old route was followed for a considerable way, and 
in a short time the* Hervey Range, containing the 
sources of the Bogan, was crossed without serious diffi- 
culty. For a long distance westward the country was 
now occupied by squatters, but many of the outsiders 
had already succumbed to the hostility of the Darling- 
blacks, who had speared their cattle and otherwise 
harassed them beyond the limit of human endurance. 
Ten years had now passed away since Mitchell led 
his preceding expedition through these parts, and the 
abortive attempts at settlement were the principal 
changes observable in the general aspect of the country. 
One very remarkable minor feature was the appearance 
of couch-grass and horehound, which had sprung up 
around the stockyards. Mitchell was quite positive 
in asserting that no specimen of these plants could 
have been found in the district before the white men 
settled there. 

The party suffered from want of water till Nyngan 
was reached, on the 16th January, and then one diffi- 
culty was quickly followed by another. Most of the 
men were seized with eye-blight, and compelled to 
remain in camp longer than was convenient for the 
object of the expedition. But they were again on the 
move as soon as circumstances would permit, the 
march being now directed towards the Macquarie. 
Meanwhile an encampment was made on the 
Canonbar, a tributary of the Bogan. While resting 
here the saltbush became an object of curiosity, and 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 137 

some interesting experiments were made with this 
singular plant of the interior plains. The tiny leaves 
were found to be a tolerable substitute for vegetables 
after boiling, by which process a yield of pure salt 
was obtained in the proportion of one ounce to the 
pound. The condition of the stock also bore witness 
to the fattening quality of the same plant. 

After a few days of eventful travel by way of 
Sturt's Duck Ponds, the Macquarie River was struck 
a few miles below Mount Harris, which had been an 
important landmark for explorers since the time of 
Oxley. The channel was dry, but the blacks reported 
a heavy flood as near at hand. Mitchell had often 
heard of sudden inundations appearing in an arid 
part of the country, and was anxious to witness so 
singular a visitation. Late in the still evening there 
fell upon his ear a dull murmur as of distant thunder, 
speedily followed by a cracking and crashing of trees, 
and in a few minutes more the river was overflowing 
its banks in a wide-spreading flood. The phenomenon 
is described as beincj orrand in the extreme, and of so 
improbable a character as scarcely to be credited 
unless it had been witnessed. 

On the 27th the Castlereagh was reached, and the 
next day the party found themselves on the banks of 
the Darling. For many miles in both directions the 
river at this period was studded with pastoral settle- 
ments. Having crossed at Warley, near one of the 
stations, Mitchell now struck out for the Narran, 
the nearest point of wliich was reckoned to be about 



138 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

35 miles distant. The intervening space was found to 
consist of choice pastoral country, covered with tall 
kanofaroo crass. Commissioner Mitchell, son of the 
explorer, had previously traversed these parts, and this 
expedition soon " pulled up " his tracks. The line of 
the Narran River having thus been already explored, 
it was traversed as expeditiously as possible, and this 
part of the journey was over by the beginning of 
April, when the Balonne (pronounced Baloon) was 
sighted. Mitchell described it as the finest river he 
had seen in Australia, with the exception of the 
Murray. The current was very slight, but the water 
stretched out in long; and beautiful reaches. The 
inarch was once more resumed, and the party moved 
along the line of this river till St. George's Bridge 
was reached, where the width expanded to 120 yards. 
At this point there is a chain of rocks stretching from 
bank to bank, which has always the appearance, and 
sometimes the convenience, of a natural bridge. It 
was this circumstance which led to its being called 
St. Geors'e's Bridfje, a name Avhich it still retains in 
common with the flourishing township that has sprung 
up in the vicinitj'. 

While enjoying a short interval of repose in this 
enchanting situation, Mitchell had the pleasure of 
receiving a despatch from headquarters containing a 
l)rief account of Leichhardt's successful journey to 
Port Essington, Being somewhat jealous of his rival, 
and, it may be, concerned for his own laurels, he 
determined on makino- a redoubled effort to cross the 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 139 

continent and discover a more practicable route than 
Leichhardt had been able to find. Leaving Kennedy 
in charge of the depot at St. George, he took a light 
party and pushed forward, having given instructions 
to the rest to follow his tracks Avhen the stock should 
be sufficiently recruited for travel. One day's march 
brought the advance party to the junction of another 
important river, which was afterwards found to be the 
Maranoa. But they still kept the line of the Balonne 
as far as the Cogoon, a considerable tributary, which 
was now followed. This led the explorers into a 
splendid district, known afterwards as the Fitzroy 
Downs, near the centre of which the town of Roma 
now stands. This fine region was studded with 
isolated mountain-peaks, one of which Mitchell hastened 
to ascend. The prospect obtained from its summit 
was magnificent, and the pasture so abundant on this 
heio-ht as to suggest the name of Mount Abundance, 
which it has ever since retained. At a short dis- 
tance the three-peaked Bindango, standing near its 
fellow, Bindeygo, formed most picturesque features in 
the landscape. It was on IVIount Abundance that the 
first bottle-tree was discovered. This is the strangest 
product of the Australian forest, and Sir Thomas was 
disposed to regard it as a hisi's luituiw in the vege- 
table kingdom. 

The telescope again brouglit into view a range of 
hills, Mitchell, bent on reaching Carpentaria, had 
for some time been disappointed in not finding the 
division of the northern waters, and fervently hoped 



140 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

this distant range would prove to be the dividing 
line. This watershed was to him, through the whole 
journey, what the horizon is to the traveller — always 
appearing near and ever receding. Many a weary 
day did he toil on, sustained by this expectation, but 
it kept mocking him to the last, and he went to hi.s 
grave without havino; crossed the coveted watershed. 
But for the present he enjoyed the pleasures of hope. 
Leavino- Mount Abundance he soon discovered the 
Amby, which, being followed, led on to the Maranoa, 
whose junction with the Balonne he had previously 
discovered. Here he established another depot and 
waited for Kennedy, making in the meantime several 
.short excursions in various directions. Not far from 
this depot a squatting station was subsequently 
formed, and more recently an important town has been 
built, in both of which the name of Mitchell has been 
perpetuated. Kennedy having brought up his party 
in excellent condition, the exj)eriment which had been 
so successfully made at St. George's Bridge was 
repeated here — the leader again setting out for the 
north with a small equipment and a four months' 
.supply of provisions. The natives in this quarter were 
not disposed to stand on friendly terms with the 
strangers, and usually kept at a safe distance. One 
inconvenience only Mitchell regretted. Many inter- 
esting natural features were observed, especially 
mountain-peaks, which he would gladly have made 
known under the aboriginal names. Failing in this, 
his favourite custom, he called them after some of the 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 141 

leading men of the time, as Owen, Faraday, Buckland, 
and P. P. King. As an exception, he named one of the 
heights Mount Aquarius, in remembrance of a very 
seasonable supply of water it had furnished for his 
party. This difficulty now seemed to be overcome 
for some time by the discovery of the Nive and 
the Nivelle, important tributaries of a large river. 
This was the Warrego, which would have been 
followed had it not persisted in taking a course which 
would have led them in the opposite direction to 
Carpentaria. 

The country to the northward continued to rise till 
it reached an elevation of something like 1,500 feet. 
Being also of a mountainous character, it was fondly 
hoped that here, at least, would be found the long- 
sought watershed. This anticipation was rather con- 
firmed by the discovery of a beautiful stream, now 
called Salvator Rosa, which flowed northward with a 
clear and musical current. This pleasing delusion 
lasted only one d&j, for on the morrow the lovely 
river ended its course in a reed}- lake, on the opposite 
side of which a channel was found, but it contained 
no water at that time. This is one of the heads of the 
Nogoa, a river trending too much to the east to suit 
Sir Thomas's purpose. Other discoveries of streams or 
watercourses were made soon afterwards, two of the 
principal being named the Claude and the Balmy 
Creek. These designations are suggestive of pleasant 
association.'/, and, while speaking well for the country, 
sufficiently prove that the expedition had its share of 



142 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

enjoyment as well as the usual experience of toil and 
fatigue. 

The 21st of July Was rendered memorable by the 
discovery of the Belyando, a fine river, heading 
towards the north, and offering a better promise of lead- 
ing to the Gulf. In this expectation, it was eagerly 
followed, and in four days conducted the explorers 
across the TrojDic of Capricorn. In many parts the 
country was excellent, stretching out in splendid 
downs, which squatters have long since applied to a 
lucrative purpose, but in other places the axe had 
to be used to clear a path through the brigalow 
scrubs. In common with other explorers, Mitchell 
has noticed that " the Australian rivers have all 
distinguishing characteristics, which they seem to 
possess from their source to their termination," The 
Belyando was no exception. It was found throughout 
its course to have an unfortunate j)i"op6nsity for 
splitting into channels, which were often difficult to 
trace through the thick scrub ; but, as a compensa- 
tion, these branches afforded excellent facilities for 
storage of water against dry seasons. Many days of 
persevering travel gave the party a good northing, but, 
after passing over three and a half degrees of latitude, it 
began to be evident that the Belyando also was going 
to deceive them. It had been steadily, and latterly 
very decisively, making for the east, thus leaving no 
hope of conducting the expedition to Carpentaria. 
Mitchell rightly conjectured that it must be the 
tributary which Leichhardt had seen joining the 



SIR THOMAS MITCHELL. 143 

Suttor, and, with a crushing feeling of disappoint- 
ment, determined to change his front and return 
home. 

Having still a sufficient store of provisions, ho 
was unwilling to continue his homeward track, and 
resolved to follow up a river to the westward, which 
took its rise in the high ground previously mentioned. 
It was found to lead through hrst-class pasture land, 
and this excursion resulted in opening up a large area 
of squatting country. Many tributaries were noticed 
to fall in on either side, particularly the Alice, which 
came from the north. The main river was followed 
till it, too, left no hope of leading to the coveted north. 
Soon after Sir Thomas gave up the search altogether, 
and set his face in earnest for the settled districts, 
which he reached, after no long interval, by way of 
the Mooni River and the Liverpool Plains. Having 
failed to enter into communication with the aborigines, 
he was unable to ascertain the native name of the 
river which had led him so far to the west. It was 
the last of his great discoveries, and he called it after 
the name of the Queen, an unfortunate designation, as 
there is another Victoria Kiver on the west coast. 
About the same jDcriod Captain Sturt was exploring 
on another part of this river, and gave it the name of 
Cooper's Creek. The natives called it the Barcoo, and 
by this name it is now generally known throughout 
its whole course. 



144 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

CHAPTER IX. 

Kennedy's disastrous expedition to cape york. 

This chapter is from first to last a tale of woe. The 
history of exploration, tragic as it has so often been, 
contains no parallel to the expedition which is now to 
be described. Of the thirteen brave men who, full of 
hope, set forth on this memorable journey, only three 
starved and emaciated shadows of humanity returned 
to tell the story of their miserable sufferings. The 
disaster produced in Sydney an impression which 
was the more saddening as a successful issue had been 
confidently expected. The leader, Mr. Edmund B. 
Kennedy, was supposed to be a thoroughly capable 
person. He had formerly been taken from the Survey 
Department and placed second in command of the 
northern expedition of Sir Thomas Mitchell, whose 
discoveries on the Barcoo and the Warreo-o he had 
subsequently followed up on his own account. So 
great care had been taken in selecting the most pro- 
mising leader, for this reason, simply, that the colony 
was now passionately in earnest on this business. The 
rising importance and threatening attitude of Port 
Phillip made it more than ever necessary to discover, 
if possible, a practicable route to some northern j)ort 
which might serve as an entrepot for the trade with 
India. Mitchell, after doing his best, had failed to 



KENNEDY. 145 

supply this want. Leichhardt had, indeed, been more 
successful, for he had actually reached Port Essington ; 
but his track was too rough and circuitous to serve the 
purpose of commerce. Another effort to reach the 
same object was noAV to be made on a modified plan. 
To simplify the process, it was proposed to land a 
party of explorers at Rockingham Bay, with instruc- 
tions to proceed overland to Port Albany, near Cape 
York, in the extreme north. This was the primary 
object, and if it could be attained, other advantages 
might follow in the opening up of new country, and 
the eventual connection of the survey with those of 
Leichhardt and Mitchell. 

The enterprise commenced with unfavourable omens. 
The voyage to Rockingham Bay was tempestuous, 
and extended over the unusual period of twenty-one 
days. By the 1st day of June, 1848, the adventurers 
had escaped from the perils of the sea, and committed 
themselves to the guardianship of a land inhabited as 
yet only by savages. A hazardous journey of six 
months lay between them and Port Albany, while their 
only resource against starvation consisted of 1 ton of 
flour, 90 lbs. of tea, and 600 lbs. of suo-ar, too-ether 
with a few sheep, which were soon almost wholly lost. 
It was arranged that a relief vessel should be waiting 
at Cape York to receive the explorers at the end of 
their journey, and it was promised also that an 
attempt would be made to communicate with them at 
Princess Charlotte Bay, if they could engage to 

reach that place b}' the month of August. With 

11 



146 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

these arranojements and understandinp-.s the Turin 
o Shanter spread sail, and left Kennedy with 
his heroic dozen to battle with difficulties, known 
and unknown, as they best could. These unhap- 
pily commenced at once, and never ceased till 
nearly all this brave band found rest in the arms 
of death. The ground on which the landing had 
been effected was covered with interminable swamps, 
and five precious weeks were spent in turning these, 
before any northing could be made. It was the mis- 
fortune of this ill-provisioned party to encounter 
within a short compass nearly all the obstacles 
which have beset Australian explorers, and 
these, truly, have been neither few nor small. 
Scarcely had the maze of marshes been left behind 
when impenetrable thickets threatened to bar further 
progress. These first visitors to York Peninsula found 
the scrubs entangled and interlaced by a new creeper 
which is now known under the name of Calamus 
Australis, and this novelty proved to be a scourge of 
the first magnitude. For days in succession the axe 
had to be used to cut a passage through this exquisite 
specimen of nature's lattice-work, and then the severed 
tendrils, furnished as they were with curved spines, 
and made the plaything of the wind, kept hooking the 
flesh of the men at work, who were thus subjected to 
perpetual annoyance. But a more serious enemy now 
began to hang upon the rear. The blacks, having 
assumed a threatening attitude for some time past, at 
last appeared in strong force, painted and armed for 



KENNEDY. 14^ 

the light. Outward signs of friendship were still kept 
up ; but it was too evident that they were bent on 
mischief, and only waited a tit opportunity for a 
decisive assault. When least expected a spear was 
thrown into the camp, which Kennedy determined to 
accept as a challenge, and gave battle. This decision 
was exceedingly unfortunate, as it led to extremities 
at once. Men like Sturt would have tried every con- 
ceivable shift before allowing matters to come to the 
dernier ressort, and might have gained their object by 
the mere sound of a gun. But Kennedy ordered his 
men to load and fire upon the savages at once. Four or 
five of the ringleaders fell, and the rest retreated for 
the present ; but only to nurse their Avrath and medi- 
tate revenge. Here was the beginning of another 
train of sorrows, for the barbarians never ceased to 
<log Kennedy's steps till their enmity was quenched 
in his blood. 

The progress of the expedition was slow and un- 
satisfactory. Cases of individual sickness occasioned 
irritating delays, and physical hindrances became more 
fre(|uent than e\'cr. A considerable part of the route 
lay between the spurs of the range which would have 
to be crossed before Cape York was reached. It was 
with great difficulty that the drays carrying the pro- 
visions had been brought over the rugged country, and 
it had sometimes been necessary to lower them into 
tlie ravines by means of ropes. As the journey ahead 
looked still more precipitous, it was judged impracti- 
cable to take them nmch furtlier, and witli great 



148 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

reluctance Kennedy resolved on exchanging this mode 
of conveyance for pack-horses. Everything that could 
be spared was accordingly abandoned, for the animals 
were now too poor to carry heavy loads. In this man- 
ner and under such difficulties a fresh start was made. 
Amid so many discouragements only one gleam of 
hope sustained the heroic adventurers. They were 
now nearing Princess Charlotte Bay, the appointed 
rendezvous for themselves and the succour which was 
promised from the sea. But they had been delayed 
too long to admit of this assistance being confidently 
relied on. August was fixed as the time of meeting, 
but October had now come, and they began to be 
uneasy lest the vessel should have given them up and 
returned. These fears, as the issue proved, were only 
too well founded. The hapless wanderers, standing 
on the precipices of the range, scanned the inhos- 
pitable coast for miles around this lonely trysting- 
place ; but instead of the wished-for help, now a ques- 
tion of life and death, they were met by nothing but 
blank despair. With heavy hearts the explorers again 
set their faces towards Cape York, now knowing for 
certain that they must either reach this goal or lay 
their bones in the wilderness. Unhappily, the diffi- 
culties of travel thickened more and more, and it 
became painfully evident to Kennedy that he would 
have to leave the greater part of his men and strike 
out with all speed, in the hope of returning with 
assistance. Provisions, too, had become alarmingly 
short, and under any circumstances starvation seemed 



KENNEDY. 149 

all but inevitable. The camp was now on Pudding- 
p-dn Hill, in the vicinity of Weymouth Bay, and it 
was determined to leave eight men in this depot for 
tlie present. All the provisions that could be spared 
were 28 lbs. of flour and a couple of horses, which 
Avere only walking skeletons. Kennedy reckoned on 
reaching Port Albany in about a fortnight, and started 
with a light party of four men, including an aboriginal 
of tried fidelity named Jacky Jacky. The remainder 
of this history is derived from the barely intelligible 
language of poor Jacky. It appears that for the first 
three weeks very unsatisfactory progress was made, 
much precious time being lost in consequence of a gun 
accident. One of the men being thus rendered unfit 
for travel, and another required to nurse him, 
Kennedy resolved to divide his party a second time. 
He accordingly left three men near Shelborne Bay, 
and, with only Jacky to accompany him, determined 
to make a life-and-death struggle to bring succour 
from Port Albany. But his own strength was rapidly 
failing, and the hostility of the blacks, who had so 
long hung upon his rear, was daily assuming a more 
deadly aspect. This misfortune was the more to be 
icgrctted as this tedious and toilsome journey was 
almost at an end. From one of tlio lieights Kenne<ly 
oauglit a glimpse of Port Albany, with its neigh- 
bouring island, and pointed them out to his dusky 
companion. But his life's journey was still nearer its 
close. The blacks were gathering in hundreds. An 
inefiectual attempt was tried to elude their vigilance 



150 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

by camping in the scrub without a fire, but they again 
made their presence known by hurling the deadly 
spear. Jacky made -a rush to rally the horses, which, 
frantic with their wounds, had begun to dash througli 
the scrub, and, on returning, found his master had 
been speared, surrounded, and robbed. A feeble 
resistance was offered to the assault of the savages, 
but it had little effect, and was soon over. Jacky 
thought Kennedy was dying fast, and asked if he 
was now going to leave him. He said he was fatally 
wounded, and, havino; o-iven a brief order concerninoj 
his papers, breathed his last in the arms of his faithful 
attendant. Such was the end of Mr. E. B. Kennedy, 
a man who has left his mark on our history, and will 
be honoured by posterity as one of the most heroic, 
if not the most judicious, and certainlj^ the least 
fortunate, of the Australian explorers. 

Jacky, being now alone, and more dead than alive, 
made his way as best he could to Port Albany. His 
progress was sometimes less than a mile per day, but 
he struggled on in the hope of finding the promised 
vessel. Almost six months had passed away since the 
party of thirteen disembarked at Rockingham Bay. 
It was within two days of Christmas, and those in 
charge of the ship were debating with themselves 
whether it was worth while waiting any longer, when 
a poor emaciated creature was observed to drag him- 
self from the forest and make signs to the vessel. 
Being conveyed on board, his tale of woe was soon 
told, in such words as he could use. The gravity of 



KENNEDY. 151 

the situation became apparent immediately, and the 
order was given at once to hoist sail for Shelborne 
Bay, in the hope of being able to rescue the three men 
who had been left at Pudding-pan Hill. The search 
was unsuccessful. No trace of these unfortunates 
could then, or has ever since been discovered. There 
still remained the depot at Weymouth Bay, where the 
necessities of the eight men left there could not be 
otherwise than urgent in the extreme, if they were 
still alive. All haste was made to the rescue. The 
eight were all found, but six of them were dead. The 
two survivors were more like ghosts than human 
beings of flesh and blood. The tale of miseries which 
they had to relate was heartrending. In addition to 
the lingering horrors of starvation, they had to endure 
incessant attacks from the blacks, who, knowing the}' 
had them in their power, enjoyed a savage delight in 
prolonging the distress of their victims. Yet it appears 
that the half-dozen eventually died of hunger, a fate 
which the survivors must inevitably have shared if 
relief had been much longer delayed. Having been 
too weak to bury their dead companions, this sacred 
duty was performed by the ship's crew, who thereafter 
hastened homeward with the miserable remains of 
Kennedy's heroic but ill-starred expedition. 



152 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER X. 



r'a 



LEICHHARDTS EXPEDITIONS TO PORT ESSINGTON AND 
INTO THE INTERIOR. 

Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt, who was born in Germany 
and educated in France, came to Australia in the year 
IS-iO. He commenced his career in Sydney as a 
lecturer on botany, his favourite science, and became 
immediately popular. Naturally fond of travel, and 
being eager for enterprise, Leichhardt took to the 
bush, where he earned his fame and lost his life. 
His first essays in exploration were made in the 
country lying between Brisbane and Wide Bay, 
which he traversed specially in the interests of 
botanical and geological science. In these adventures 
he was associated for the most part with the blacks, 
who welcomed him as a benefactor on account of his 
medical skill, of which he gave them the full benefit 
without fee or reward. 

Having accomplished his object in this part of the 
country, Leichhardt returned to Sydney, where he 
found public opinion strongly excited on the question 
of exploration. Sir Thomas Mitchell, having led three 
expeditions into the interior with great success, was 
mainly instrumental in creating this outburst of 
enthusiasm, which called for other enterprises of a 
like nature and purpose. At this period, also, a keen 



LEICHHARDT. 153 

desire was manifested for an overland route to 
Carpentaria as a highway, so far, to India, which was 
supposed to offer an unlimited market for Australian 
horses. Already a settlement had come into existence 
at Port Essington, which was reckoned a suitable 
entrepot for the prospective traffic. The one thing- 
wanted was an overland route to this place, and it 
was generally thought the time had come when an 
attempt should be made to discover it. Sir Thomas 
Mitchell was again to the front, expressing himself 
ready for the undertaking, with Dr. Leichhardt as 
second in command. He had already arranged to 
proceed to his old depot at Fort Bourke and to strike 
]iorth for Carpentaria. But a fatal obstacle was 
unexpectedly interposed. Sir George Gipps, being in 
a bad humour with his advisers, refused to confirm 
tlie vote for supplies which the Council had unani- 
mously passed, and, as a natural consequence, the 
whole project fell to the ground. This was a sore 
blow to Leichhardt, but it did not unman him. 
Despairing of help or countenance from the Governor, 
lie volunteered to lead an expedition to Port Essington 
on his own account if private liberality should prove 
itself equal to the occasion. In a very short time 
sufficient resources were forthcoming, and Leichhardt 
now set himself to redeem his promise. 



In this expedition it was resolve<l to start from 
Moreton Bay and kee]) the eastern fall of tlie main 



154 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

range, thus avoiding the parched-up interior and 
following a route which was likely to furnish an 
adequate supply of .water. Leichhardt could never 
have been far beyond the reach of the sea-breeze — a 
circumstance which caused Mitchell to speak of him, 
rather contemptuously, as a "timid coaster." The 
party, consisting of ten persons, with seven months' 
provisions, made an auspicious start from Brisbane, 
and had reached the outskirts of settlement by the 
1st of October, 1844. Crossing the Darling Downs, 
the River Condamine was followed as far as practi- 
cable, after which a dividing; ranoe was traversed and 
the Dawson River discovered. It flowed through a 
magnificent valley, which was soon after proved to be 
an excellent pastoral district. When it turned too 
much to the east a more northerly course was steered, 
which led to the discovery of Palm-Tree Creek, in a 
splendid valley abounding in palms, and hence the 
name. The next stage was much impeded by 
brigalow scrub, but a succession of lagoons supplied 
the party with plenty of water and excellent game. 
Zamia Creek followed in the line of discovery, 
bounded by the Expedition Range, which was crossed, 
and Comet Creek discovered soon after. This latter 
led on to the Mackenzie, which had to be abandoned 
in a short time, as it flowed too much to the east. 
The picturesque Peak Range was now passed. The 
mountains not only appeared magnificent in point of 
scenery, but were believed also to contain precioua 
stones. Leichtiardt says: — "A profusion of chalcedonj- 



LEICHHAEDT. 155 

and fine specimens of agate were observed in many 
places along the basaltic ridges." On the 13th of 
February they discovered an important river, which 
was named the Isaacs, but it was not followed, as the 
course was again directed towards the mountains. 
Shortly after they had the good fortune to come upon 
the Suttor, which brought them to the Burdekin. 
This was the best discovery yet made, as it served 
them for a e'uide over more than two deo-rees of 
latitude. When this river also left them for the coast, 
their route was directed more inland, with a view of 
reaching Carpentaria. In this cross-countiy journey 
a conspicuous mountain observed in the distance 
received the name of Mount Lano- "after Dr. Lang, the 
distinguished historiographer of New South Wales." 
A few unimportant creeks having been crossed, they 
found themselves on the western fall, and discovered 
one of the Gulf rivers, which was named the Lynd. 
Here, and at several later camps, the explorers were 
treated with a visit from some awfully pertinacious 
intruders. " We had scarcely left our camp," says 
Lcichhardt, " when swarms of crows and kites took 
possession of it, after having given us a fair fight 
during the previous daj's whilst we were dr3'ing the 
meat. Their boldness was, indeed, remarkable ; and if 
tlie natives had as much we should soon have to quit 
our camps." In this district a botanical novelty, in 
the form of a bread-fruit tree, was found, and used to 
some advantage. As the Lynd <lid not load in tlic 
most suitable direction, it was left, and a straiglit linf 



156 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

taken to the Gulf. Tliis was the occasion of the 
<liscovery of another river, which was called the 
Mitchell, in honour of ^thc distinguished explorer ; but 
it, too, was given up for a shorter course. In this 
(quarter a deplorable acci<lent occurred. The camp 
was attacked during night hj the blacks, when 
Gilbert, the naturalist to the expedition, was killed. 
From this point the journey was continued round the 
head of the Gulf. Numerous rivers were crossed, 
some of which had been long liefore discovered by 
exploring navigators, and others were now for the 
first time brought to light. Among the latter were 
the Gilbert and the Roper, both receiving names in 
honour of members of the expedition. The Roper 
River had many tributaries, one of which was called 
Flying-Fox Creek, from the myriads of these 
creatures which had chosen it for their haunt. 
Leichhardt says : — " I went with Charley and Brown 
to the spot where we had seen the greatest number of 
llying-foxes, and whilst I was examining the neigh- 
bouring tree, my companions shot 67, of which 55 
were brought to our camp, which served for dinner, 
supper, and luncheon." By the 24th of November the 
expedition had crossed the watershed between the 
streams tiowino; into the Gulf and those heading for 
the Indian Ocean. After much toilsome travel, the 
South Alligator River was reached, about 60 miles 
from its mouth and 140 from Port Essington. In this 
locality the waterfowl are described as being seen, not 
in crowds, but in " clouds." " Here," says Leichhardt, 



LEICHHAEDT. 157 

" we should ha\'e been tolerably comfortable 1 >ut for a 
large green-eyed fly, which was extremely trouble- 
some to us, and which scarcely allowed our poor 
horses to feed." In order to avoid some bad, rocky 
ground, the party turned to the south and struck the 
East Alligator River. The last stage of the journey 
was travelled under the direction of a native guide, 
and the goal of the expedition reached in safety. 
After a month's rest in this settlement, Leichhardt 
found a schooner bound for Port Jackson, and em- 
braced this opportunity of returning to Sydney by 
sea. His unexpected appearance there seemed like an 
apparition from the other world. For a long time he 
had been given up for lost, and a search expedition 
had already come back unsuccessful. The citizens of 
Sydney at once instituted a public subscription for 
Leichhardt and his associates, who had thus travelled 
over 3,000 miles in fifteen months. The amount 
reached the figure of £1,500, which was supplemented 
by a Government grant of £1,000. The Ro^-al Geo- 
graphical Societies, also, hastened to show their appre- 
ciation of the explorer's labours b}^ presenting him 
with their gold medals. These rewards had been as 
honestly earned as they were handsomely made. The 
route he had laid open was, indeed, useless for the 
purpose intended, as being impracticable for traftic, and 
inferior to others which ha\e since been discovered, 
but the expedition brought to the knowledge of the 
colonists an immense extent of excellent countrj', 
wliich was speedily occupied b}' pastoral tenants. 



158 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

II. 

A short period of repose sufficed to recruit the 
wearied explorer and brace him up for future effort. 
Now more enthusiastic than ever, Leichhardt con- 
ceived the heroic idea of traversing the entire con- 
tinent at its greatest width, starting from Moreton 
Bay and proceeding through the deserts to Swan River 
in Western Australia. He was now in possession of 
some private means, and his zeal was again supported 
by numerous friends. This new expedition consisted 
of nine persons, and his equipment, especially under 
the head, of live stock, was provided on the largest 
scale the colony had yet witnessed. These consisted 
of 108 sheep, 270 goats, 40 bullocks, 15 horses, and 
15 mules. His plan was to follow his former route 
for a few hundred miles, and then bear off to the 
westward. All went tolerably well till the Dawson 
country was passed, after which wet weather became 
a serious hindrance. At Comet Creek the party 
began to suffer from fever and ague, but still pushed 
on to the Mackenzie, where they found themselves in 
a deplorable plight. The resources had been wasted, 
not so much as a dose of medicine being left for the 
sick. No one being able to attend to the sheep and 
cattle, the whole were irretrievably lost. It now 
became evident to Leichhardt, as it had been for some 
time to his companions, that it would be the part of 
madness to attempt the unknown desert so ill-furnished 
with supplies. Conquered by dire necessity, Leich- 



LEICHHAKDT. 159 

hardt returned home with a heavy heart, after a 
fruitless journey of seven months. The expedition 
had proved a total failure, and, as the old track had 
been followed, the journey added nothing to what was 
already known of the distant parts of the country. 

III. 

In the meantime Sir Thomas Mitchell had made a 
fourth exploring expedition, and on this occasion had 
done his best to discover an interior route to Carpen- 
taria. He failed, however, in this object ; but in all 
other respects the undertaking had been eminently 
successful. In one quarter the tracks of the two 
explorers had approached within a short distance of 
one another, and Leichhardt, being in possession of a 
considerable salvage from the wreck of his second 
expedition, proposed to examine the intervening dis- 
trict — a fine territory, now known as the Fitzroy 
Downs. This was a small undertakino- for so o-reat 
an explorer. Nor was it a very necessary one either, 
for the squatters were already in possession of the 
country, and the crack of the stockman's whip .sug- 
gested to Leichhardt the propriety of returning home 
and preparing for an enterprise more worthy of his 
well-won reputation. 

IV. 

Arrangements were again made in earnest for cross- 
ing the continent to Swan River, all being ready to 



160 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

set out from Moreton Bay with a party of only six 
men, provisioned for a journey which was calculated 
to extend over two or three years. The second in com- 
mand was one Classan, brother-in-law to Leichhardt, 
who had just arrived from German}' to join the 
expedition. The late Rev. W. B. Clarke, being sur- 
prised at so peculiar an arrangement, asked the " new 
chum" what qualifications he possessed for the most 
perilous enterprise hitherto attempted in Australia ? 
Classan replied that he was a seaman who had suffered 
shipwreck, and was, therefore, well fitted to endure 
hardship ! In this expedition Leichhardt resolved to 
abandon his old route for that of Sir Thomas Mitchell, 
which he proposed to follow as far as the bend of the 
Victoria (Barcoo), and then turn westward. He seems 
to have fallen into this track near Mount Abundance, 
in the neighbourhood of the present town of Boma, in 
Queensland. It is not possible to trace the expedition 
much further, nor is there any hope of the veil of 
mystery ever being lifted. Here are Leichhardt's last 
words to the ci^'ilized world, as written from 
M'Pherson's station, on the Cogoon, under date of 
8rd April, 1848 : — " I take the last opportunity of 
giving you an account of my progress. In eleven 
days we travelled from Mr. Burrell's station, on the 
Condamine, to Mr. M'Pherson's, on the Fitzroy Downs. 
Though the country was occasionally very difficult, 
yet everything went on very well. My mules are in 
excellent order, my companions in excellent spirits. 
Three of my cattle are footsore, but I shall kill one of 



LEICHHARDT. 161 

them to-night, to lay in our necessary stock of dried 
beef. The Fitzroy Downs, on Mdiich we travelled for 
about 22 miles from east to west, is, indeed, a splendid 
region, and Sir Thomas Mitchell has not exaggerated 
their beauty in his account. The soil is pebbly and 
sound, richly grassed, and, to judge from the myalls, 
of the most fattening quality. I came right on to 
Mount Abundance and passed over a gap in it with 
my whole train. My latitude agreed well with 
Mitchell's. I fear that the absence of water in the 
Fitzroy Downs will render this line country, to a 
great degree, unavailable. I observe the thermometer 
daily at 6 a.m. and S p.m., which are the only con- 
venient hours. I have tried the wet thermometer, 
but am afraid my observations will be very deficient. 
I shall, however, improve on them as I proceed. The 
only serious accident that has happened was the loss 
of a spade, but we were fortunate enough to make it 
up at this station. Though the days are still very 
hot, the beautiful clear nights are cool and benumb 
the mosquitoes, which have ceased to trouble 
us. Myriads of flies are the only annoyance we 
have. Seeing how much I have been favoured 
on my present progress, I am full of hopes that 
our Almighty Protector will allow me to bring my 
darling scheme to a successful termination." This 
last communication, unfortunately, says nothing 
about the direction in which he intended to travel, 
and his route henceforth is a matter of pure con- 
jecture. After years of weary waiting ^Ir. Hovenden 



162 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Hely was sent to search for his tracks, but without 
avail. Hely was played upon by the blacks, who 
pretended to show hiiii several of Leichhardt's camp- 
ing grounds, and finally the bones of the murdered 
party. They turned out, however, to be mutton-bones, 
and the search ended in nothing. Mr. A. C. Gregory, 
himself a distinguished explorer, led two expeditions 
with the same object in view, and discovered a tree 
marked " L," which may or may not have been made 
by Leichhardt. Walker, when searching for Burke 
and Wills, believed he had found some traces of the 
missing expedition ; but these marks were again 
successfully contested by Landsborough. Still later a 
Mr. Skuthorpe, in a most mercenary fashion, tried to 
persuade the public, and especially the Government of 
New South Wales, that he had discovered certain relics 
of the expedition, including Leichhardt's journal in 
good preservation ; but the affair was looked upon as 
an imposition, and nothing further has transpired. It 
cannot be said with certainty that a single trace of 
Leichhardt has been discovered since he wrote his 
letter from the Fitzroy Downs. 



A, C. GREGORY. 163 



CHAPTER XI. 

MR. A. c. Gregory's expedition to the north-west 

INTERIOR, 

The part of the continent which shall next engage 
our attention is the north-west interior. Up to this 
period of our history very little had been known of 
this quarter, except along the seaboard and, in sparse 
places, for a few miles inland. The Victoria had been 
discovered in 1840 by Captain Stokes, who described 
it as a rival to the Murray, and, moreover, sailed up 
its channel for 50 miles without reaching the head of 
the navigation. By this waterway it was thought 
possible to reach the north-western interior, in which 
some traces of Leichhardt might be met with. The 
conduct of this expedition was entrusted to Mr. A. C 
Gregory, a very capable explorer, and a man of 
scientific attainments. His party numbered eighteen 
persons, including his brother, Mr. H. Gregory, Mr. 
Wilson, geologist, and the now famous Baron Von 
Mueller as botanist. The party took with them 50 
liorses and 200 sheep. The Torn Tougk and the 
Monarch landed the expedition on the Plains of 
Promise, near the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria, 
on the 24th September, 1855. The Monarch then 
returned to Moreton Bay, while the Tom Tough sailed 
round to the Victoria, having received orders to wait 



1G4 THE AUSTEALIAN EXPLORERS. 

for the rest of the party, who were to proceed overland. 
In six days they made the Macadam Range, and in 
eight more came on to the Fitzmaurice River. At 
this camp the horses, which had ah^eady been greatlj- 
reduced in number, were bitten by alligators, and 
three of them died. On reaching the Victoria the 
Torn Tough was not to be seen, as she had been 
driven ashore elsewhere and had sustained severe 
injury. On the 8rd of January, 1856, Mr. Gregory 
started with eight men and followed up the Victoria 
for 100 miles. In latitude 16° 26' S. it split into 
two branches, each of which was in succession traced 
up to the vanishing point. The explorers then struck 
forth into the desert, proceeding on a southerly course. 
A journey of 300 miles brought them, on the 22nd of 
February, to a promising creek, to which they gave 
the name of Sturt, in memory of the eminent ex- 
plorer. To their intense disappointment, this clue 
also failed them, for Sturt 's Creek finally resolved 
itself into a sheet of salt water, to which they gave 
the appropriate designation of Lake Termination. 
Two mountains in this neighbourhood were called 
Mount Mueller and Mount Wilson, after the botanist 
and the geologist of the expedition. Once more the 
terrible salt desert lay before the baffled explorers. 
" Nothing," says the leader, " could have been more 
forbidding than the long, straight lines of drift-sand 
which, having nearly an east and west direction, rose 
beyond each other like the waves of the sea ; and 
though the red glare of the sand was partially con- 



A. C. GREGORY. 165 

cealed by a scanty growth of spinifex, the reflection 
from its surface caused the passing clouds to be 
coloured a deep purple. We had long passed the 
limit to which the tropical rains of the north-west 
coast extend, and the country south of 19° seemed 
only to be visited by occasional thunderstorms. Thus 
for a few miles the grass would be fresh and green, 
then there would be a long interval of dry, parched 
country, where no rain appeared to have fallen for 
a twelve-month. The channel of the creek also 
decreased in size, and the frequent occurrence of 
salicornia indicated the saline nature of the soil ; the 
water became brackish, then salt, and finally spread 
out and terminated in the dry bed of a salt lake, a mile 
in diameter, which communicated with a second, of 
larger size, nine miles lono- and five wide. Though now 
quite dry, there were marks of water having stood for 
considerable periods, of from 10 to 15 feet deep, as 
the shells of mussels in their natural position were 
abundant more than a mile from the ordinary bank of 
tlie lake, showing that a large tract of country is 
sometimes inundated. As the mussels are a species 
which live in fresh water, it is evident that at such 
times the lake is not salt, but it would appear that as 
the waters evaporate and recede they become saline, 
as the shells found within the limits of the lake were 
of other species which afiect brackish or salt water." 
One more attempt to make for the south proved 
abortive, and, with many regrets, Gregory returned 
to the depot, after liaving penetrated within 730 



166 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

miles of Sturt's most advanced camp towards the 
centre of Australia. 

Falling back upon alternative instructions, the 
leader now left the Victoria, and, making his way 
across Arnheim's Land, reached the River Roper. 
The track of Leichhardt round the southern shores of 
the Gulf was followed for the most pai-t. The Plains 
of Promise were crossed, but Gregory scarcely agreed 
with Stokes in his unqualified praise of this country. 
From the Albert River he resolved to seek for a 
better track to Moreton Bay than Leichhardt's. The 
Flinders was reached on the 8th of September, 
between which river and the Gilbert some good 
country was discovered. The latter was traced for 
180 miles of its course. The Burdekin was reached 
by the 16th of October, and a fortnight later its 
junction with the Suttor. Gregory traced the 
Belyando to 22°, thus connecting the routes of 
Mitchell and Leichhardt with his own. Passing the 
Mackenzie and the Comet, the Dawson River was 
reached by the loth of November. The course was 
then made to Brisbane through the Burnett district, a 
journey of 400 miles. The parties in this expedition 
had been absent sixteen months from the haunts of 
civilization. They had travelled 2,000 miles by sea 
and 5,000 by land. 



BUEKE AND WILLS. 167 



CHAPTER XII. 

BURKE AND WILLS'S EXPEDITION ACROSS THE 
AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT. 

The golden age of Australian exploration dates from 
1860, The preceding half -century is rich in heroic 
eftbrts put forth in this direction, and bears witness to 
many a conquest over the mysterious interior as the 
fruit of much self-sacrifice. Yet these results, as a 
class, were of a secondary character, only sometimes 
answering the hopes of the explorers themselves, and 
not doing so at all when these expectations rose to 
the ambition of crossing the continent. But those 
days of comparative failure are now over, and 1860 
marks the commencement of a bright and glorious era 
for the explorers of this hitherto dark continent. 
Within the space of the next two years Australia 
was crossed no fewer than six times, by as many 
expeditions. The foremost place in time, as well as 
interest, belongs to Burke and Wills, and for this 
reason the story of their victory and sufferings will 
form the subject of the present chapter. 

Victoria has the credit of this expedition. The 
movement originated in the offer of £1,000 by Mr. 
Ambrose Kyte, on condition of this sum being doubled 
by voluntary subscriptions. The terms were soon 
complied with, after which the Government generously 



168 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

came to its aid by a vote of £5,500. The arrange- 
ments were undertaken by a committee of the Royal 
Society, and, as the funds were ample, it was deter- 
mined to equip the expedition on the most liberal 
scale. As a new feature in exploration, two dozen 
camels were imported from India, and every provision 
was made to secure the object on which the young- 
colony had set its heart. The only difficulty that 
remained was to find a competent leader. After 
much delay had been occasioned through unsuccessful 
negotiation, the command was finally given to an 
enthusiastic volunteer named Robert O'Hara Burke. 
This remarkable man was a native of Ireland, but was 
educated in Belgium, and had served as an officer in 
the Austrian cavalry. He subsequently returned to 
the " Green Isle," and entered the constabulary force. 
Having emigrated to Australia he received a similar 
appointment, and held the position of inspector of 
police when this new honour was conferred upon him. 
He was a brave and generous man — few, indeed, have 
been more heroic and faithful — but, as he possessed 
little acquaintance with Australian exploration, and 
was destitute of special qualifications for the work, 
his appointment has generally been regarded as a 
mistake on the part of the committee. The position 
of second in command, with the office of astronomical 
observer, was conferred on William John Wills, who 
had been born in Devonshire as late as 1834. He 
came out to Australia while a mere youth, and for a 
time had to betake himself to the humble occupation 



BURKE AND WILLS. 169 

of shepherd, but being well educated and possessing 
excellent gifts of head and heart, he soon rose to the 
position of a government surveyor, and afterwards 
obtained the honourable office of assistant astronomer 
in the Melbourne Observatory. 

The expedition, when fully organized, consisted of 
15 men and 24 camels, with twelve months' pro- 
visions, weighing in all 21 tons. The start was made 
from Melbourne on the 20th of August, ISGO — an 
imposing spectacle, which has yet left its impression 
on the memories of many of the older inhabitants of 
that city. By the committee's direction, they were 
to march first to the Darling, next to the Lower 
Barcoo (Cooper's Creek), and then strike north- 
ward for the Gulf of Carpentaria. Melbourne 
had been left too late in the season, and this 
disadvantage was aggravated by delays occasioned 
by the unwieldiness of the expedition and insubordi- 
nation on the part of some of the men. At length 
Menindie, on the Darling, was reached. The name is 
new in the history of exploration, but the locality 
is in the neighbourhood of Laidley Ponds, a quarter 
which was then well known to the readers of Sturt 
and Mitchell. Burke formed a depot here, in which 
he left the greater part of his men and some beasts of 
liurden to recruit from the fatigues of their toilsome 
journey. Taking Wills, together with six men and 
15 camels, he made his arrangements for a quick 
journey across to the Barcoo. It had been his inten- 
tion to follow Sturt's old track, but lie was dissuaded 



170 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

from his purpose by a Mr. Wright, superintendent of 
a neighbouring pastoral station, who told him of a 
better route further to the north, and volunteered to 
conduct the party over it in person. Both the advice 
and the offer were accepted ; nor did experience fail 
to justify the change of plan. Travelling was agree- 
able on this new route, and water found at intervals 
of not more than 20 miles. The march from Menindie 
to Torowotto was little short of a pleasure excursion, 
and Burke, with the generosity which was part of his 
nature, now associated Wright permanently with the 
expedition, giving him the position of third in com- 
mand. Being no lono-er needed as a guide, he was 
sent back from this place to the depot on the Darling, 
with orders to bring forward the heavy supplies with 
all convenient speed. The advance party continued 
their progress into the interior, and, on the 11th of 
November, struck the Barcoo, which was followed 
until a suitable place was found where they might 
encamp till the arrival of Wright with the re- 
mainder of the expedition. The delay proved to 
be longer than had been expected ; and, that the 
time might not be altogether lost, some explorations 
were made in the surrounding country, and several 
promising routes to the Gulf were examined with 
little satisfactory result. Worst of all, some of the 
camels were lost, and although much time was con- 
sumed in the search, they were never seen again by 
the explorers. Wright's dela}' was becoming as vexa- 
tious as it seemed to be inexcusable. Six weeks had 



BURKE AND WILLS. 171 

passed away since he left Burke, and yet the whole 
distance from Menindie to the encampment on the 
Barcoo had been traversed by the advance party in 
twenty-two days. Chafed and irritated almost to 
madness under the disappointment, Burke determined 
to endure it no lonoer, and resolved " to dash into the 
interior, and cross the continent at all hazards." For 
this purpose he again divided his party, taking with 
himself Wills and two others, named King and Gray, 
together with six camels, one horse, and twelve weeks' 
provisions. The camp was now transformed into a 
permanent depot, in which were left four men, six 
camels, and four horses. One of the party named 
Brahe was put in command, with instructions to erect 
a stockade as a means of defence against the natives, 
and to detain Wright after his arrival with supplies. 
Burke was now entering upon the real difficulties of 
his gigantic undertaking, and had at command only a 
mere fraction of the means which he had brought out 
of Melbourne. But of hope and courage he had lost 
nothino-. On the 16th of December he took leave of 
Brahe and his men, telling them, with his wonted 
generosity, that if he were not back in three months, 
they might consult for their own welfare as should 
appear to be necessary. 

Burke and Wills, together with their brave com- 
panions King and Gray, now plunged into the 
unknown deserts and shaped their course for Car- 
pentaria. During the earlier stage the whole party 
rode on the camels or the one horse that accompanied 



172 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

them, but the animals got weaiy, and it became 
necessaiy to trudge it on foot. Burke and Wills 
walked ahead, carrying a rifle and a revolver, while 
King and Gray followed with the beasts of burden. 
Their progress was necessarily slow, even though they 
had not encountered serious obstacles of a physical 
kind. Comfort, or anything approaching to it, was 
utterly unknown. Night after night the toil-worn 
wanderers encamped sivh Jove frigido, without tents 
or covering of any sort. Yet these hardships were 
endured without murmur or regret. Burke is re- 
ported to have said he would not care though he had 
only a shirt on his back, if so be that he could cross 
Australia. It is impossible to give ample details of 
this northward journey, for the materials are scanty. 
Burke was not much of a literary character, and 
found it too irksome a task to keep a diary. Wills 
was vastly superior in this respect, but yet his 
journal, otherwise so satisfactory, is defective here. 
This much is certain, that they pursued a north- 
westerly course through the interior, by way of what 
was afterwards known as M'Kinlay Range, discover- 
ing and naming Gray and Wills creeks. Mount 
Standish, and other topographical positions which 
have since become prominent landmarks. By the 
27th of January they had crossed the northern water- 
shed and come on to the Cloncurry, which led them 
to the Flinders. This river was mistaken for the 
Albert, but was scrupulously followed, in the hope 
that it would lead to the Gulf. After six weeks' 



BURKE AND WILLS. 173 

absence from the Barcoo signs of the neighbourhood 
of the ocean began to appear. The waters of the 
Flinders became brackish, and gradually widened 
into an estuarj^ A sight of the ocean w^ould have 
gladdened the eyes of the explorers beyond measure, 
but a forest of mangroves deprived them of this 
gratification. Nevertheless, they had reached the 
mouth of the Flinders, and were within the limits of 
the rise and fall of the tide. The object which had 
cost so many sacrifices was accomplished at last, 
and tlie continent of Australia traversed from end 
to end. 

The condition of the explorers was now pitiable in 
the extreme, and never were men more in need of 
rest or had better deserved it ; but to rest here meant 
to perish, for only a fag-end of the rations w^ as left, 
and if they were to see the Barcoo depot again, it 
must be by subsisting on the merest pittance for the 
next two months. For this reason no time was lost 
at the Gulf, and the return journey was commenced 
on the 21st February. The weather happened to set 
in wet, wdiich was a real misfortune, as it added 
inuuensely to the inconvenience of travel, seeing their 
strength was almost spent. The camels broke down 
and had all to be abandoned except two, which were 
also in a weakly state. The one horse which had 
been brought from the depot was kille<l and eaten, to 
save the provisions. In addition to all the other evils 
sickness began to afiect them, and Gray was so ill 
that he ha<l to be strapped on the back of a camel. 



174 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

The poor fellow, driven by starvation, had lately been 
caught appropriating more than his share of the pro- 
visions, and was chastised by Burke for the offence — 
an act of discipline which might have been spared, 
for poor Gray was not to eat much more of the little 
store. Day after day he was carried forward on the 
journey, but each night found him getting weaker, 
and it was necessary to make a halt to let him die. 
He breathed his last in a lonely wilderness, sacrificing 
his life without a murmur to the cause which he 
loved not less than his master did. His three sur- 
viving companions mournfully buried him in the 
desert with such strength as was still left them, but 
were so exhausted with the labour of digging his 
grave as to require a day's rest before attempting to 
renew the journey. They, too, must have suc- 
cumbed to their troubles but for the sustaining 
power of hope, which told them the longed-for depot 
could not now be far distant. Other indications 
also pointed the same way, and in four days after 
leaving Gray's grave their eyes were gladdened with 
the sight of the familiar landmarks of the old 
camping ground on the Barcoo. Burke gathered up 
all his remaining strength and made the desert ring 
with "cooeys" for his former comrades, and listened 
for a reply ; but, horresco referens, no response was 
returned but the echo of his own voice. Could it be 
possible that the depot was abandoned, and the 
miserable men left to perish in the wilderness ? The 
appalling thought was quickly succeeded by the 



BURKE AND WILLS. 175 

experience of the more terrible reality. The place of 
the encampment was plainly visible, and the stockade 
still standing, but no human beino- to break the 
solitude. Man could not suffer a more crushing- 
disappointment ; and it is not surprising to hear that 
Burke now completely broke down. But, after a 
short interval, one ray of hope sprang up from the 
depth of despair. A marked tree happened to catch 
the eye of one of the explorers, which contained the 
inscription, " Dig three feet westward." Wills and 
King immediately began to excavate, but Burke was 
too much unmaiuied to render any assistance. The 
hole was found to contain a chest with some supplies 
and a letter of explanation. This unhappy day in 
the experience of the explorers was the 21st of April, 
and the letter was eagerly opened to ascertain what 
time Brahe and his men had left. The date was also 
tlie 21st of April, at noon — in fact, the ink was 
scarcely dry, for the letter had been written only 
seven hours before it fell into the hands of Burke. 
It stated, in explanation, that they had remained in 
the depot four months ; that Wright had not come 
with the supplies from Menindie ; that the blacks 
were troublesome and their own provisions exhausted. 
Moreover, as Burke had entjaged to return in three 
months, they considered, at the end of four, that he 
must have perished or taken another route. » 

What was to be done \ To remain in the aban- 
doned depot was to perish, for the amount of 
provisions could only afford a very temporary relief. 



176 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLOEERS. 

Wills recommended an immediate move in the direc- 
tion of Menindie, on the track of Brahe and party ; 
but Burke was str(5ngly in favour of making for 
South Australia, whose pastoral stations now reached 
as far as Mount Hopeless. At first sight there seemed 
reason in this advice. Burke argued that it was 
impossible to overtake Brahe in their emaciated con- 
dition ; that Menindie was 400 miles from the depot, 
whereas Mount Hopeless was only 150 ; and that the 
Barcoo River might be expected to supply them with 
water for the most of the route. The course to Mount 
Hopeless was accordingly adopted. Thinking the 
depot might possibly be visited by a relief party, they 
took the precaution of burying a letter at the foot of 
the marked tree, stating the direction they had taken, 
adding that their weak condition rendered it imjDos- 
sible to travel more than four or five miles a day ; but, 
by a strange oversight, left no external indications 
which would lead such a relief party to conclude that 
the place had been visited by the explorers. Having 
taken the handful of provisions, Burke, Wills and 
King, together with the two surviving camels, started 
for the most northern settlement of South Australia, 
striving to make the shortest course, and coming on 
to the river only when water failed them elsewhere. 
One of the camels, unfortunately, got bogged, and had 
to be shot, after two days' labour had been spent in 
trying to extricate it. As much of its iiesh as could 
be recovered was dried and added to the small and 
rapidly diminishing store of provisions. They managed 



BURKE AND WILLS. 177 

to save a little, also, through an occasional present of 
fish from the native tribes, who, fortunately, were 
very friendly. But a great and unexpected misfor- 
tune now befell the unhappy explorers. The Barcoo, 
which had been reckoned on to supply them with 
water, split up into several channels and lost itself in 
the desert. One branch after another was followed 
for some distance, but with no other result than the 
consumption of their provisions and the loss of the 
one surviving camel. They were now reduced to dire 
extremity through want of both food and water, and 
debated with themselves whether they should con- 
tinue the journey or return and encamp on the nearest 
waterhole in the river, and endeavour to get sub- 
sistence from the blacks. It was difficult to say how 
much ground had been travelled over, but they 
supposed it must be somewhere about 45 miles. In 
reality it was about douljle that distance ; and if they 
could have made another good day's journey to the 
.south they would have seen Mount Hopeless raise its 
friendly head above the horizon. But, by another of 
those fatal decisions which haunted this expedition, 
they resolved to abandon their journey and return to 
the banks of the river. Fighting against despair even 
yet, they conceived a faint hope that the depot might 
have been visited in the interim, and Wills, with the 
consent and advice of Burke and King, walked back, 
as he was able, to see if any relief had arrived. He 
reached the end of his journey on the 30th of May, 

but found no one there, and saw no indications which 

13 



178 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

could lead him to think the place had been visited 
since his own party had left. Sorrowful at heart, but 
brave in spirit to the last, Wills again retraced his 
steps, and returned to his companions in a very 
exhausted condition ; but he could not have reached 
them at all without the help of the Ijlacks. All three 
were now destitute, and, with the exception of an 
occasional present of fish, had nothing in the shape of 
provisions. But even yet there appeared to be one re- 
sort which lay between them and death by starvation. 
The country aljounded with a plant called nardoo, the 
seeds of which, when pounded and baked into a cake, 
were eaten by the natives. The starving explorers 
adopted the same practice, in the hope of still further 
prolonging their existence. But a little experience 
proved that the nardoo cakes, although allaying the 
pangs of hunger, contained little nourishment, and the 
heroic sufferers had now fallen into the last stao-e of 
starvation. If they were to live at all, it Avas evident 
they must east themselves on the blacks, and trust to 
their charity. Dreadful as the alternative was, they 
agreed to adopt it, for life is sweet, even in the 
wilderness. But just here an insuperable difficulty 
intervened, for the blacks were not at hand and had 
to be sought out, Burke and King had yet strength 
to walk a mile, or perhaps two, in a day. But poor 
Wills could walk no more, and yet he was willing 
that his companions should go and save themselves, if 
too late to save him. They put together a rude 
shelter, and left to seek the blacks, after taking a 



BURKE AND AVILLS. 179 

sorrowful departure, which couhl hardly fail to be 
final, for his life was visibly ebbing away. But they 
were not to go far. On the second day Burke 
succumbed, and felt his end to be at hand. He was a 
brave man, yet he shrank from the idea of dying- 
alone, and entreated King to stay with him until all 
was over. His dying request was religiously observed 
by his trusty friend, who held him in his arms till he 
breathed his last. Seeing he could render no more 
assistance there, King returned to see how it was with 
Wills, It was all peace, for he, too, lay quietly asleep 
in the arms of Death. Beside his dead body lay his 
journal, in which he had made his last entry with his 
trembling hand, noting the aspect of the weather, and 
added, with a stroke of pleasantry even yet, that he 
was just like Mr. Micawber, waiting for something to 
turn up. Such was the end of William John Wills, 
the most amiable and noble-minded of Australia's 
explorers. His life was one of singular promise, and 
great things might have been expected from him had 
he not, unhappily, perished in his youth. He was only 
27 years of age when he fell a sacrifice to the incom- 
petency of others whom he served or trusted. The 
disconsolate King was now alone in the wilderness, 
with his dead leaders on cither side of him. Having 
performed his last duties to the departed, as best he 
could, he sought and found his sable benefactors, wlio 
received him as one of themselves, and proved liy 
their conduct that hospitality towards the distressed 
is a virtue which even savages can exercise. 



180 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Having seen the last of Burke and Wills, and left 
King safe for the present in the hands of the friendly 
aborigines, let us return to the Bareoo depot, in the 
hope of finding some explanation of the mystery 
which enshrouds that most unlucky centre of opera- 
tions. Brahe, as has been already noticed, took his 
departure on the 21st of April, bound for Menindie. 
He had travelled only eight days when Wright was 
met coming on, at last, with the bulk of the supplies 
for the expedition. After a brief consultation the 
two leaders resolved to come on to the Bareoo depot, 
which they reached in another eight days. Burke 
and party had been there during the inter\'al, but as 
they left no external marks, Wright and Brahe, after 
a few minutes' cursory examination, concluded the 
depot had not been visited, and almost immediately 
took their departure for Melbouriie, without putting 
themselves to the trouble of opening the hole at the 
foot of the marked tree, where the explorers' letter 
was concealed. Again the place was left without any 
external indications for the direction of their friends, 
who might return, and when the depot was visited by 
Wills, about a fortnight later, he concluded, in the 
absence of such indications, that no one had been 
there since his own party left. 

Almost everyone connected with this expedition is 
to blame in some degree for the disasters in which it 
ended. The committee at Melbourne went to sleep, 
and were aroused to vigorous action when it was 
too late. Burke and party were at fault in leaving 



BURKE AND WILLS. 181 

the depot for Mount Hoj^eless without making some 
external marks which might catch the eye of anyone 
who shouki come with supplies. Brahe and Wright 
w^ero guilty of unpardonable neglect in finally leaving 
the Barcoo depot without opening the cache, to see 
whether the depot chest of provisions had been taken 
or not. But the real author of the disasters was 
Wright, who loitered four months at Menindie, while 
the heroic explorers were slowly dying of starvation. 
He alleged in his defence that Burke had asked him 
to remain until his own appointment was confirmed 
by the Melbourne committee. But this is extremely 
improbable, and is contradicted l:)y Burke's owni des- 
patches. For the shortcomings of the others a toler- 
able excuse may be made, but for the cruel conduct 
of Wright there is neither justification nor defence, 
for all the evidence saddles him wath the responsibility 
of the horrible tragedy in which this once splendid 
expedition closed its career. 



182 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

CHAPTER XIII. 

SEARCH EXPEDITIONS IN QUEST OF BURKE AND WILLS, 

As time passed on and no trustworthy tidings of the 
missing explorers could be obtained, anxiet}^ on the 
part of the Melbourne public became unbearaljle. 
An active search was demanded with an urgency 
which was not to be resisted. A manifold effort was 
soon put forth on an unprecedented scale, and in this 
enterprise Victoria was materially assisted by the 
sister colonies. This combined action marks the meri- 
dian of Australian exploration, which, when finished, 
left little more to be done in the eastern half of the 
continent. Within the space of two years — from 1860 
to 1862 — it was crossed no fewer than six times, in as 
many different directions, by exploring parties. The 
search expeditions all took the field about the same 
time. Alfred Howitt was despatched from Melbourne 
on the footsteps of Burke and Wills ; John M'Kinlay 
was sent from Adelaide to search the Barcoo and 
surrounding districts ; Frederick Walker was com- 
missioned to start from Rockhampton and proceed to 
the north; while William Landsborough was instructed 
to begin at Carpentaria, and examine the country to 
the southward as far as might be necessary. With 
a view to the support of all these parties, as oppor- 
tunity might offer. Captain Norman was sent with the 
Victoria to form a relief depot on the Albert River, 



HOWITT. 183 

at the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are tliiis four 
search expeditions which call for a brief review. 



Mr. Alfred W. Howitt, son of William and Mary 
Howitt, so well known to the literature of their 
country, was sent from Melbourne to the Barcoo 
(Cooper's Creek), by the route which had been taken 
by the missing expedition. Near Swan Hill he met 
Brahe, returning with the intelligence that Burke 
and Wills had not appeared at the depot. Proceeding 
liy way of Menindie and Poria Creek the Barcoo was 
reached on the 8th September, 18G1, and the depot at 
Fort Wills on the 18th. The cacJie, on being opened, 
was found to contain papers showing that the ex- 
plorers had been there since returning from Car- 
]-)entaria. The members of the expedition having 
thereafter dispersed in different directions in quest of 
information, one of them soon came back with the 
welcome news that King had been found. The sequel 
had better be oiven in Howitt's own words : — " I 
immediately went across to the blacks' wurleys, where 
I fovmd King, sitting in a hut which the natives had 
made for liiin. He presented a melancholy appear- 
ance, wasted as a shadow, and hardly to be distin- 
guished as a civilijced being but by the renniant of 
clothes upon him. He seemed exceedingly weak, and 
I found it occasionally ditlicultto follow what he .sai<l. 
The natives were all gathered round, seateil on the 



184 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

pTOund, lookino; with a most oratified and delii^hted 
expression. I camped where the party had halted, 
on a high bank, close to the water, and shall probably 
remain here ten days, to recruit King before re- 
turning." The story, as given by King, is soon told. 
From the time he saw his companions dead to the day 
he was discovered by Howitt's party he had been 
about two months and ten days in the wilderness. 
He remained by himself some days before going to 
the blacks. Upwards of two months had thus been 
spent with the aborigines. Though desiring to be 
quit of him at first, they afterwards became very 
well reconciled to his company. On the whole they 
behaved very well to the white stranger. As soon as 
King was able to walk he proceeded seven miles 
down the creek with the relief party, and showed 
them the remains of Wills, which he had buried 
under the sand. At a distance of about eight miles 
further they found also the body of Burke, which 
was now interred with due solemnity. The object of 
the expedition having been thus accomplished, pre- 
paration was made for the return to Melbourne, but 
before starting the camp of the natives was again 
visited, and some presents distributed, in acknowledg- 
ment of their humane treatment of the forlorn King. 

Soon after this party returned home, a second 
expedition was organized, under the same leader, to 
brino; the bodies of Burke and Wills to Melbourne. 
After reachino- the Barcoo, a considerable time was 
spent in the further exploration of the surrounding 



HOWITT. 185 

country. The Stony Desert was visited, and a horse 
captured -which had been lost by Captain Sturt IS or 
19 years before. Having at length taken possession 
of the bodies, they first conveyed them to Adelaide, 
by the route which the explorers, when living, had 
wished in vain to travel. This part of the journey 
was traversed in seven days. The remains of the two 
men who had been the first to cross Australia were 
thence conveyed to Melbourne, where they were 
interred with every mark of respect for their noble 
characters, and many a token of regret for the neglect 
which had left them to perish in the wilderness. 



II. 

Although the object wdiich called forth all the 
search expeditions was completely attained by the first 
alone, it is yet worth while to give some attention to 
the other three, on account of their indirect services 
in the work of exploration. We shall take next in 
order the South Australian efibrt. On the IGth of 
August, 1861, Mr. John M'Kinlay was despatched 
from Adelaide, with a party of 10 men, 4 camels, 24 
horses, 12 bullocks, and 100 sheep. Blanchewater, 
400 miles distant, was crossed at Baker's station. 
The journey thence to Lake Hope was made through 
a dry and stony country. From this part all the way 
to Sturt's Stony Desert the country was poor, but 
contained an abundance of lakes and creeks, which 
Averc well supplied with lish. Leaving a depot at 



186 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Lake Buchanan, M'Kinlay set out for the Barcoo, 
again passing through a region of lakes. In the 
country now visited a number of natives were found 
wearing pieces of European clothing. A white man's 
grave was pointed out by the blacks and opened by 
the explorers. It was really Gray's grave, but they 
were as yet in ignorance of the true facts of the case, 
and were, moreover, grossly misled by the aborigines, 
who pointed to a lake and told them they had killed 
and eaten white men there. M'Kinlay, hastily con- 
cluding that this must have been the end of the 
missing expedition, called the place Lake Massacre, 
and reported accordingly to the authorities at Adelaide. 
Fearing that they intended to make the like quick 
despatch with himself and party, M'Kinlay commanded 
his men to fire upon them, which made the whole lot de- 
camp. This was an unfortunate misapprehension, for 
the blacks, instead of meaning to be hostile, Avere only 
giving expression to their joy after a fashion of their 
own. It was, in fact, the same tribe that had treated 
King so well, and they must have been terribly sur- 
prised by such an abruj)t termination to friendly in- 
tercourse. But, in the presence of such strangers as 
they had encountered, it was a risky thing to boast of 
killinof and eatino- white men. Having returned to 
the depot on Lake Buchanan, and thence sent to 
Blanchewater for supplies, M'Kinlay received correct 
information regarding the fate of the missing expedi- 
tion. There was, therefore, no need of doing anything 
more in this connection ; but, being well supplied with 



M'KINLAY. 187 

all necessaries, he wisely resolved to continue his 
journey of exploration across the continent. On the 
17th of December they were again on the march, 
heading in a north-easterly direction, which led them 
through a country barren in soil, but abounding in 
lakes much frequented by waterfowl. These lakes 
were quite as much a distinguishing feature of this 
region as the springs had been of the country dis- 
covered by M'Douall Stuart to the east of Lake Eyre 
— soon to be noticed. Further travelling was rendered 
difficult, first by excessive rain, and next by intolerable 
heat. Christmas Day was spent at a splendid lake, 
called Jeannie, which was found to be the haunt of 
innumeraljle waterfowl. Here many natives were ob- 
served pounding the nardoo seed between two stones, 
which was then baked and roasted on the ashes. At 
this camping-ground good feed was found for the 
stock, and the men also were supplied witli abundance 
of fish l)y the blacks. During the night their sable 
neighbours proved rather too noisy, but when a rocket 
was sent up it had the effect of causing a dead silence 
till morning. The next stage led on to another lake, 
but it was tlu-ougli a country containing little vegeta- 
tion except polj'gonum, samphire, and saltbush. One 
journey more brought them to a magnificent lake, 
which M'Kinlay called the Hodgkinson, after the 
second leader of the expedition. A tliree-days' excur- 
sion from this centre ended in the discovery of quite 
a number of lakes, abounding in I'xct'llciit fish. The 
expedition had now spent four months in a region 



188 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

of lakes, full or dry, with many creeks and flooded 
hollows. This was a great surprise in a country which 
bordered so closely on Sturt's Stony Desert, and is 
still one of the enigmas of the physical geography of 
Australia. On the 6th of January a fresh departure 
was made for the north, but, after weeks of fruitless 
toil in the midst of a drought, a return had to be 
made to Lake Hodgkinson, where it was resolved to 
remain in camp till rain fell. During this enforced 
delay M'Kinlay, unable to brook idleness, took a small 
party and made an assault on Sturt's Stony Desert, 
intimatino; that he mio-ht be absent for three weeks. 
Four days proved to be quite enough, as he met with 
nothing but dry lakes, red sand-hills, and bare stones, 
although he had penetrated 57 miles into this solitude. 
Having returned to the camp there was nothing but 
the unpleasant experience of waiting for rain, while 
the provisions were running down with an uncom- 
fortable rapidity. Here, too, the blacks, presenting 
themselves in companies of 400 or oOO, were anything 
but agreeable neighbours. The explorers also had to 
put up with heat, flies, ill-health, and all manner of 
inconveniences, till the lOth of February, when rain 
came and released them from confinement. - They had 
now to flounder in the mud through a country which 
is described as utterly bare of grass, like a field which 
had been ploughed and harrowed, but not sown. On 
the 13th an old camp of Burke's was passed, and by 
the 7th of next month Sturt's Stony Desert was 
left behind their backs. Towards the middle of 



M'KINLAY. 189 

March some tracts of well-grassed country were 
reached, and named the Downs of Plenty. During the 
remainder of this month, also, they traversed a 
tolerably good country, which seemed, however, to be 
bordered by deserts. Tropical Australia was now 
entered upon, and during the whole of April the 
course lay through the most luxuriant vegetation. 
About the beginning of May the track of Burke on 
the Cloncurry was crossed. The Leichhardt River 
was reached during tlie same month. Here the 
country was simply magnificent, the grass being up to 
the horses' necks. Another stage brought the expedi- 
tion to Stokes's Plains of Promise. Finally, on the 
ISth, they advanced to the tidal waters of the Gulf of 
Carpentaria, but dense forests of mangrove forbade 
their approach to the shore. Under date of the 19th 
of May, and while resting in the GOth camp, M'Kinlay 
wrote as follows : — " I consider we are now about four 
or five miles from the coast. There is a rise in the 
river here of six and two-thirds feet to-day, but 
yesterday it was a foot higher. Killed the three 
remaining sheep, and will retrace our steps on the 
21st." These were the last of the 100 sheep which 
were started with tlie expedition. M'Kinlay had the 
credit of being the first to take sheep across the 
continent of Australia. They now made for the coast 
of the Pacific, M'hich was struck at Port Denison, but 
not till a thousand obstacles were overcome and nearly 
all the camels and horses eaten to keep themselves 
alive. 



190 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

IIL 

On the same errand Mr. Frederick Walker, Com- 
mander of Native Police, was sent from Rockhampton 
to the Albert River by the Queensland authorities. 
Taking a party of mounted troopers, he proceeded to 
Bauhinia Downs, on the Dawson, where the expedition 
was finally organized on the 7th September, 1861. 
The River Noo-oa was reached on the IGth, after 
which he pushed on through Walker's Pass to the 
River Nivelle. Bj^ the 27th he had made the Barcoo, 
which was followed down for three days, during which 
traces both of Gregory and Leichhardt were discovered. 
From the Barcoo a passage was made to the Alice 
through much spinifex country. After crossing the 
watershed between the Alice and the Thomson, a fine 
tributary of the latter, called the Coreenda, was met 
with. By the IGth of October they had got into a 
country of high mountains, where the natives were 
observed to be armed with iron axes and tomahawks. 
Some traces of Leichhardt were also found in this 
quarter. The advance was now continued through a 
hilly country in a north-west direction to lat. 21°, 
where they fell in with the liead-waters of the Barkly, 
a large tributary, or a main section, of the Flinders 
River, which led them through splendid countr}\ 
Another fine tributary of the Flinders was soon after 
discovered, and called the Norman, in honour of the 
captain of that name who was in command of the 
depot on the Albert. Nothing further of special 



WALKER. 191 

interest occurred till tlie 30th of October, when they 
were attacked by a large party of armed natives. 
Walker commanded his men to fire upon them, when 
a dozen of these unfortunate creatures fell under his 
guns. There is reason to fear that the leader's experi- 
ence as an officer of black troopers had led him to 
hold the lives of the aborigines too cheap and to forget 
that they were human beings, of the same blood and 
brotherhood as ourselves. The explorers now followed 
the Norman River, but had to dig in its channel for 
water. On the 25th of November they reached the 
junction of the Norman and the Flinders, the latter 
of which being a large and beautiful river. Here the 
track of Burke and Wills was discovered, leading 
.south, but could not be followed till fresh supplies 
were obtained from the depot on the Albert. Early in 
December the expedition came on to the Leichhardt, 
and then to the Albert River, the latter flowing over 
plains and flooded low flats, where the tracks of 
several other explorers were seen. On the 7th the 
<lep6t was reached and found to be under the super- 
intendence of Captain Norman. Walker had thus 
made the journey in three months and twelve days 
from Rockhampton. In point of celerity, our annals 
of exploration contain nothing to beat this record. 
After passing thirteen days at the depot. Walker 
started anew to follow up tlie track of Burke and 
Wills which he had been fortunate enough to discover. 
He succeeded in running it southward to the ninth 
camp of the missing expedition, when it ceased to be 



192 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

discernible, in consequence of the abundance of vege- 
tation and the obliterating action of floods. Thinking- 
Burke had turned off'' to make for the east coast, AValker 
altered his course to the same quarter, and made a 
vain attempt to follow him up. After much harassing 
travel he struck the Burdekin River, at Strathalbyn 
station, where his troubles came to an end. Making- 
next for Port Denison, he proceeded thence to Rock- 
hampton, which was reached on the 5th of June. The 
journey had thus occupied five months and two weeks. 
Burke and Wills were not found, of course, but much 
good country was discovered and the geography of 
Northern Australia materially advanced. 



IV. 

The last of these eflbrts to bring relief to the missino- 
explorers was Mr. William Landsborough's expedition. 
The honour of being a search- party has frequently 
been denied to this enterprise. Landsborough was 
plainly accused of having interested objects in view ; 
and it must be confessed that his journal contains little 
to refute this charge, for it scarcely ever alludes to 
Burke and Wills, nor would any reader be likely to 
suspect that its author was in search of anyone in 
particular. Be this as it may, in cannot be doubted 
that, in all other respects, this expedition was a most 
fortunate one, and excelled all the rest in the extent 
of fine country which it brought to light. To the 
leader himself it must have seemed more like a vaca- 



LANDSBOROUGH. 193 

tion tour than a perilous journey through an unknown 
land. With a party of three white men and three 
blacks, Landsborough sailed from Moreton Bay to 
Carpentaria on the 24th of August, 18G1. Starting 
from the shores of the Gulf, he explored the Albert 
E,iver, under different names, for about 120 miles. 
This tract of country being exceedingly dry, and the 
blacks troublesome, he was compelled to return to the 
depot on the Albert. Captain Norman told him that 
Walker had been there reporting the discovery of 
Burke's track on the Flinders. This route was 
accordingly followed from the Gulf to the source of 
the river, but neither the tracks of Walker nor Burke 
were found. After leaving the Flinders, the Thomson 
was followed, and then Cooper's Creek (Barcoo) was 
reached on the 19th of April. From this position to 
the settled districts a route was found without diffi- 
culty — indeed, with great ease to Landsborough. On 
the 21st of May, being 103 days from the start, 
Williams's station, on the Warrego, was reached, 
where intelligence was first received regarding the fate 
of Burke and Wills. The remainder of the journey 
across the continent was made by the Darling River 
and Menindie to Melbourne. It proved of the highest 
value to the squatting interest, and led to the occupa- 
tion of an immense extent of country for squatting 
purposes. After an experience of twenty years in 
Australia, Landsborough testified that the best land 
he had seen was in the district of Carpentaria. 



14 



194 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

JOHN M'DOUALL STUART's EXPEDITIONS IN THE 
SOUTH, TO THE CENTRE, AND ACROSS THE CON- 
TINENT. 

The brave adventurer who is next to eng^asje our 
attention must be placed in the front rank of ex- 
plorers. John M'Douall Stuart was excelled by none, 
and equalled by few, in the special qualities which 
command success in the arduous enterprise to which 
he devoted his life. As a practical bushman he 
probably stands without a rival. From first to last 
he spent over twenty years in the exploration of 
Australia, during which time he was the leader of six 
expeditions, in all of which he made important 
discoveries, and never failed to bring home his men, 
who had put their lives in his keeping. He first 
served under a great master. Captain Sturt, whom he 
accompanied in the capacity of draughtsman to the 
expedition which started for the centre of Australia 
in 1844. His own responsible and eminently suc- 
cessful labours in the same field will be sketched in 
the sequel. It is not too much to claim for M'Douall 
Stuart the palm of martyrdom in the cause which lay 
so near his heart. It is true that after his work was 
done he was not left without honours, and also 
rewards, both in land and money, but by that time he 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 195 

had lost the capacity for enjoying any of these things. 
From his hist journey he returned, or rather was 
carried, more dead than alive, racked with the pains 
of scurvy, contracted in the centre of the continent, 
which he was the first to discover. He subsequently 
rallied a little, but never recovered his health, and 
died in Encjland in 1869. 



The first of Stuart's journeys was undertaken on 
the solicitation, and also at the expense, of his friend 
Mr. Wm. Finke, and had for its object the discovery 
of new pastoral country in the unknown territory to 
the west and north-west of Lake Torrens. On the 
10th of June, 1858, Stuart started from Mount Eyre 
with only two men, a white man and a blackfellow, 
taking with him a small complement of horses and a 
too scanty allowance of provisions. The first section 
of the journey, which was rugged and sterile, lay to 
the west of Lake Torrens, whose surface was occa- 
sionally sighted. Water was found at moderate 
distances on this part of the route, but the rough and 
.stony country proved a serious difficulty to the horses, 
which were imperfectly shod. This contingency had 
been strangely overlooked, and no shoes had been 
provided for the journey. The blackfellow, who wa« 
supposed to know this country intimately, soon got 
bewildered, and proved of no service for the purpose 
he was intended to forward. The leader, being thus 
thrown upon his own resources, was also greatly 



196 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

inconvenienced in shaping his course by the frequent 
and extraordinary illusions of the mirage of the 
desert. Referring to one of these perplexing occasions 
he says : — " I think we have now made the dip of the 
country toward the south, but the mirage is so powerful 
that little bushes appear like great gum-trees, which 
makes it very difficult to judge what is before us ; it 
is almost as bad as travelling in the dark. I never 
saw it so bright or so continuous as it is now ; one 
would think the whole country was under water." 
Failing to obtain the object of his search in the north- 
west, Stuart now directed his journey to the south 
and east, exploring the central region between Lake 
Torrens and Lake Gairdner. In this quarter some 
small patches of fairly good country were found, but 
the water, in the few places where it was met with, 
proved to be as bitter as the sea. The blackfellow 
now, thinking it time to shift for himself, took the 
way that pleased him best, leaving only the white 
man, Foster, to assist Stuart in the thick of his 
difficulties. Hope of a successful issue to their 
labours was now fast ebbing from the breasts of these 
indomitable adventurers. After journeying hither 
and thither for 1,000 miles, they had failed in the 
prime object of the expedition, their provisions were 
rapidly disappearing, and the horses were too footsore 
to travel an ordinary day's march. At this stage the 
monotony of the scene was broken by a high moun- 
tain coming into view, which Stuart named Mount 
Finke, and from the summit of which he ventured to 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 197 

hope for a better prospect, or, if not, to alter his course. 
" If I see nothing from the top of the mount to- 
morrow," said he, " I must turn down to Fowler's 
Bay for water for the horses. ... As I could not 
remain quiet, I got on one of the lower spurs of Mount 
Finke to see what was before me. The prospect is 
gloomy in the extreme. I could see a long distance, 
but nothing met the eye but a dense scrub, as black 
and dismal as midnight." From this mount, accord- 
ingly, a straight course was steered to the sea-coast, 
during which every camping-place is marked on the 
map by the name of " desert." In the matter of 
provisions, they had for some time been reduced to 
one meal a day, and toward the close of the journey 
it was found that only two more remained to carry 
them a distance of 100 miles. In this dire extremity 
they were glad to feed on kangaroo mice, which, 
happily, were here to be found in great abundance. 
They are described as elegant little creatures, about 
four inches in length, of the shape of a kangaroo, with 
a tail terminating in a sort of brush. By means of 
this resource against starvation the explorers were 
enabled to cross the remaining stages of the desert, 
and so reached the habitations of civilized men. 

II. 

Mr. Stuart was the first explorer who reached the 
centre of Australia. The journey which led to this 
memorable achievement is worthy of detailed narra- 
tion ; but before entering upon this story it may be 



198 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

proper to say a few words on two preliminary essays 
in exploration, which, in some measure, opened the 
way to this much-desired result. 

About six months after his return from his first 
expedition, this indefatigable explorer started on a 
new journey to examine the extensive territory lying 
to the north of Lake Torrens and the east of Lake 
Eyre. This country proved, in some respects, a 
surprise to Australian discovery. It turned out to be 
unusually well watered, being furrowed at moderate 
intervals by a series of creeks, some of which were 
entitled to the name of rivers. But its most aston- 
ishing feature consisted in the myriads of springs, in 
groups ranging from two or three to more than a 
dozen in number. Some of these sent forth a stream 
of water which might have turned a mill-wheel, and 
continued to run a mile from the source. From 
this circumstance the whole territory' has, not inaptly, 
been called the " spring " country. Another dominant 
feature was seen in the extraordinary abundance of 
quartz reefs, many of which bore plain indications of 
being auriferous, but, of course, could not be fairly 
tested by any appliances which were then to hand. 
Towards the close of the same year (1859) another 
journey was made to this part of Australia, when more 
accurate surveys were obtained, and the boundaries of 
a number of squatting runs laid down. In both of 
these expeditions important service was rendered to 
the better knowledge of this country, but they were 
especially valuable as furnishing Stuart with an 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 199 

advanced starting-point for his heroic project of 
crossing the continent from south to north. This 
arduous, but happily successful, enterprise will now 
be described in its main outlines. 

This expedition, which consisted of only three men 
and thirteen horses, set out on the 2nd of March, 1860, 
from Chambers's Creek, a valuable water supplj- 
which had been discovered by Stuart in 1858. For 
some time his course lay through an extensive tract 
of country which, though yet unoccupied, had become 
well known to this, its first explorer. Toward the 
northern part they followed the River Neale, which 
furnished plenty of water, and led them into the 
unknown country. The next important creeks to 
be discovered and crossed were the Hamilton, the 
Stephenson, and the Finke. After crossing the latter 
there began to heave into sight a strange and strikinof 
mountain structure, which presented the aj)pearance 
of a locomotive engine with its funnel. " We pro- 
ceeded," says the journal, "towards this remarkable 
pillar through heavy sand-hills covered with spinifex, 
and, at 12 miles from last night's camp, arrived at it. 
It is a pillar of sandstone, standing on a hill upwards 
of 100 feet high. From the base of the pillar to its 
top is about 150 feet, quite perpendicular, and it is 20 
feet wide by 10 feet deep, with two small peaks on 
the top. I have named it Chambers's Pillar, in honour 
of James Chambers, Esq., who has been my great 
supporter in all my explorations." Much good 
country had been traversed l)cforc this ptnnt was 



200 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

reached ; indeed, the whole of this route was a sur- 
prise in this respect, as it had been expected to land 
them in a great central desert. Instead of finding a 
barren wilderness, the continuation of the journey 
brought them into another splendid tract, watered 
by a creek named the Hugh, which, after being 
followed for a long distance, terminated in a high 
mountain-chain. To scale its rugged flanks and 
penetrate the dense thickets of mulga proved to be a 
most formidable task, their clothes and skin being- 
torn in forcing a passage through the living and the 
dead timber. This rano-e — the James — was succeeded 
by two other chains, which were named the Water- 
house and the M'Donnell Ranges, the latter of which 
have since become a well-known landmark in the 
history of more recent explorations. Stuart thus 
describes the view he obtained from the north gorge 
of these mountains : — " From the foot of this for about 
five miles is an open grassy country, with a few small 
patches of bushes. A number of gum-tree creeks 
come from the ranges and seem to empty themselves 
in the plains. The country in the ranges is as fine a 
pastoral hill-country as a man could wish to possess — 
grass to the top of the hills, and abundance of water 
through the whole of the ranges." Still heading 
northward, the expedition reached a position, on the 
22nd of April, which is very memorable in the annals 
of Australia. The goal which had proved the incite- 
ment to so many sacrifices during a long period of our 
history was now reached at last. Mr. Stuart was 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 201 

standino; in the centre of the continent. This achieve- 
ment, of which he might well have been proud, is 
intimated by the following modest entry in his 
diary : — " To-day I find by my observation of the sun 
— 111° 0' 30" — that I am now camped in the centre of 
Australia. I have marked a tree and planted the 
British flao^ there. There is a high mount about 
two miles and a half to north -north-east. I wish it 
had been in the centre ; but on it, to-morrow, I will 
raise a cone of stones and plant the flag there and 
name it Central Mount Stuart." This ceremony was 
performed on the day following, when a fine view was 
obtained from the summit of this high mountain. The 
aspect of the central region of Australia must have 
been a surprise to the first discoverer, for it falsified 
the prophecies c>f half a century. The centre of 
Australia was as much a matter of curiosity and 
conjecture in our early history as the North Pole is 
at the present time. Oxley was first in the field, with 
his pet theory of an inland sea. This conjecture 
received its quietus from Sturt, but it was only to 
make room for the opposite fallacy of a stony desert. 
Now, at last, when the veil was lifted and the reality 
disclosed, it turned out to be just that which nobody 
had prophesied and few had ventured to expect. It 
was simply a fine country, abounding in grass, and 
fairly supplied with water. Both now and afterwards 
it was used by Stuart as a recruiting-ground for his 
toil-worn expedition. Leaving part of his little force 
here for the present, the leader made a tentative effort 



202 THE AUSTKALIAN EXPLORERS. 

to ascertain whether there was any practicable route 
out west to the Victoria River. Finding none, he 
returned, and kept steering his former course. As if 
the centre had been the natural goal of the journey, 
he met with nothing but difficulties in the attempt to 
penetrate further to the north. He himself had fallen 
a victim to scurvy, which was only slightly relieved 
by the native cucumber, his only resource. Water 
became even harder to find. The horses, also, which 
were too much of the cart breed, did not well stand a 
hard pinch. Above all, the blacks, who had never 
been friendly, became the more hostile the further the 
expedition advanced. The crisis was reached when 
they made an encampment on Attack Creek. Here 
the aborigines set fire to the grass, and tried every 
stratagem to separate the explorers from their horses, 
after which there would soon have been an end to the 
expedition. Failing in this device, they next mus- 
tered their forces and attacked the strang;ers in the 
proportion of ten to one. Even so, they had to come 
off second best for the time being. Nevertheless, 
Stuart deemed it scarcely prudent to oppose himself 
to a tribe of warlike blacks in the centre of Australia, 
with an army consisting of two men, all told, 
himself being commander-in-chief. Nothino; further 
remained but to submit to the inevitable, which he 
accordingly did, and returned to the most northern 
settlements of South Australia. 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 203 



III. 



Mr. Stuart reached Adelaide in October, 1860. 
When it became known that he had encamped in the 
centre of Australia and pushed his way considerably 
further north, the public enthusiasm again rose to 
fever heat in the cause of exploration. The Parlia- 
ment, which never failed in its duty in this business, 
again came forward with a vote of £2,500 to provide 
for another and a larger expedition, which was 
speedily organized, with the old and well-tried 
explorer for its leader. He took with him seven 
men, thirty horses, and thirty weeks' provisions. The 
former route was followed, with a little deviation, as 
far as Attack Creek, the scene of the previous repulse. 
In all his journeys Stuart had the shrewdness to 
search out and follow up mountain-systems, as being 
the physical conformation most likely to furnish the 
needful supply of water. Still on the look-out for 
this good fortune. Attack Creek had not been far left 
in the rear when an elevated chain — the Whittington 
Range — was discovered, and followed for a long dis- 
tance. It led them on to Tomkinson's Creek, 
containing a large supply of water, which served as 
a base for immediate operations, and was afterwards 
turned to good account as a retreat in time of 
difficulty. Another mountain-system — named the 
Warburton — was met with in the next stage of the 
journey. Like the former, it was heading too much 
to the north to suit Stuart's intention of making for 



204 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the Victoria River, on the western coast. Breaking 
away from the mountains, repeated attempts were 
made to find a route" in the required direction. The 
high lands soon shaded away into an interminable, 
l)ut very fertile champaign country, which received 
the name of Sturt's Plains, in honour of the " father 
of Australian exploration." But it proved to be 
absolutely arid, and blocked on all sides by impene- 
trable scrubs, varied only by low red sand-hills. 
Through these impervious scrubs, on the west, a 
passage would have to be forced, or the expedition 
must end in failure. The latter alternative was not 
to be thought of till every expedient had been ex- 
hausted. Leaving a portion of his force in the depot, 
Stuart, three several times, started with a light party 
to pierce his way through the most forbidding obstacles 
he had ever experienced in his journeys. It w^as with 
the greatest difficulty the horses could be brought to 
face this formidable barrier ; and when forced to do 
so, the animals w^ere injured and the explorers' clothes 
torn to shreds. It was hard to persevere in the face 
of such sacrifices ; yet it was done manfully enough, 
and mio'ht have been crowned with success but for 
the absolute failure of w^ater. The furthest point 
reached in these assaults on the impervious west was 
only a hundred miles distant from Gregory's last 
camp on the Camfield ; and if this short space could 
have been bridged over the final aim of the expedi- 
tion would have been easily attained. To accomplish 
this object, Stuart did all that man could do in such 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 205 

a situation. Nothing could be more admirable than 
the pluck and perseverance displayed in this conflict 
with the impossible. But he, too, like all mortals, 
had to yield to stern necessity. With a heavy heart 
he turned his back on the coveted north-west and 
retreated to the old camping-ground on the Tomkinson. 
Even yet unwilling to leave any alternative untried, 
he now modified his plan, and proposed to strike 
north for the Gulf of Carpentaria, if such a course 
might be possible. This, unhappily, it proved not to 
be. His path was efiectually l^arred in this direc- 
tion also. After the most desperate effort nothing- 
remained but to abandon the enterprise and return to 
the haunts of civilization. The following entry in 
his journal shows with how much regret this retreat 
was forced upon him : — "It certainly is a great dis- 
appointment to me not to be able to get through, but 
I believe I have left nothing untried that has been in 
my power. I have tried to make the Gulf and the 
river (Victoria) both before rain fell and immediately 
after it had fallen, but the results were the same 
— unsuccessful. I shall commence my homeward 
journey to-morrow morning. The horses have had a 
severe trial from the long journeys they have made, 
and the great hardships and privations they have 
undergone. On my last journey they were one 
hundred and six hours without water." So ended 
this second heroic effort to cross the continent. Not- 
withstanding his defeat, Stuart had succeeded in 
penetrating one hundred miles beyond the furthest 



206 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

point reached on the previous journey. His most 
advanced position was lat. 17° long. 133°. 

IV. 

Now, at last, we are to see the reward of perse- 
verance. If Fortune has any favour for the brave, it 
was time to smile on John M'Douall Stuart. Two 
noble efforts had ended in failure, but this third 
attempt was to be crowned with complete success, 
and land the explorer on the much-coveted shores of 
the Indian Ocean. A month had not elapsed since 
.his return from the second journey when the Govern- 
ment of South Australia despatched him on his third 
and final expedition. Being provided with reinforce- 
ments, he left the settled districts in January, 1862, 
and by the 8th of April had reached Newcastle Water, 
the most northern camping-ground of the former 
journey. Without loss of time he made a renewed 
attempt to pierce the north-western scrub and carve 
his way to the Victoria River. But again his Her- 
culean struggles proved to be only wasted effort. 
This route was accordingly abandoned, finally and for 
ever, as being absolutely impracticable. The line of 
march was now directed to the north, with a view 
of cutting the track of Leichhardt's and Gregory's 
discoveries, and thus gaining the Roper River, which 
enters the Gulf of Carpentaria. This new project 
proved more easy in the accomj^lishment than he had 
ventured to expect. There were, of course, stubborn 
obstacles to be overcome ; but water, the great 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 207 

requirement, was found at manageable intervals, 
bringing the party on, by a succession of ponds, first 
to the Daly Waters, and thence to an important river, 
which was named the Strangway. This bridge over 
the wilderness conducted them to the much-desired 
Roper River. It is described as a noble stream, 
draining a magnificent country, and exceeding in 
volume any the explorers had hitherto seen. This 
clue having been followed in the direction of its 
source, led the expedition a long way towards its 
destination on the shores of the Indian Ocean. After 
it failed them by turning too far to the north, only a 
short intervening tract had to be crossed before 
the Adelaide River, one of the known western 
streams, was reached. Again the route lay through 
some of the finest country in Australia, con- 
taining much that was new both in flora and 
fauna. The valley of this river was constantly 
revealing to the eyes of the strangers some botanical 
surprise — giant bamboos, fairy-like palms, and 
magnificent water-lilies on the placid bosom of its 
longer reaches. There was only one drawback, 
a,nd that a rather serious one. It was the paradise 
of mosquitoes, which made a common prey of the 
intruders, allowing them no rest by night, and 
leaving mementos of their attachment that could 
not be forgotten during the day. But through 
pleasure and pain the expedition pushed on to- 
wards the attainment of its purpose. The leader 
so manaojed the last stage as to make the con- 



208 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

elusion of the journey a surprise to his men. He 
knew the ocean to be near at hand, hut kept the 
good news a secret- till his party should be in a 
position to behold it with their own eyes. " At 
eight miles and a half," says he, " we came upon a 
broad valley of black alluvial soil, covered with 
long grass. From this I can hear the wash of the 
sea. On the other side of the valley, which is 
rather more than a quarter of a mile wide, is 
growing a line of thick heavy bushes, very dense, 
showing that to be the boundary of the beach. 
Crossed the valley and entered the scrub, which 
was a complete network of vines. Stopped the 
horses to clear a way, while I advanced a few 
yards on the beach, and was gratified and delighted 
to behold the waters of the Indian Ocean, in 
Van Diemen's Gulf, before the party with the 
horses knew anything of its proximity. Thring, 
who rode in advance of me, called out ' The sea ! ' 
which so took them all by surprise, and they were 
so astonished, that he had to repeat the call before 
they fully understood what was meant. They then 
immediately gave three long and hearty cheers. 
. . . . I dipped my feet and washed my hands, 
as I had promised the late Governor, Sir Richard 
M'Domiell, I would do if I reached it. Thus I have, 
through the instrumentality of Divine Providence, 
been led to accomplish the great object of the 
expedition, and to take the whole party safely as 
witnesses to the fact, and through one of the finest 



JOHN M'DOUALL STUART. 209 

countries man could wish to behold. From New- 
castle Water to the sea-beach the main body of the 
horses have been only one night without water, and 
then got it the next day." The Union Jack was now 
hoisted, and near the foot of a marked tree there 
was buried, in a tin, a paper containing the following 
inscription : — " The exploring party under the com- 
mand of John M'Douall Stuart arrived at this spot on 
the 25th day of July, 1862, having crossed the entire 
continent of Australia, from the Southern to the 
Indian Ocean, passing through the centre. They left 
the city of Adelaide on the 26th day of October, 
1861, and the most northern station of the colony on 
the 21st day of January, 1862. To commemorate 
this happy event they have raised this flag, bearing 
his name. All well. God save the Queen ! " Burke 
and Wills had crossed the same continent to the 
Gulf of Carpentaria nearly eighteen months earlier, 
but this achievement in no way detracts from the 
merit of Stuart's success, for his journey was entirely 
independent of their, or any other, expedition. The 
felicitous termination of this splendid enterprise 
marks a principal era in the history of Australian 
exploration. It led directly to three important results 
— the annexation of the northern territor}' to Soutli 
Australia, the establishment of a colonial settlement 
at Port Darwin, and the construction of the trans- 
continental telegraph along almost tlie whole route (»f 
this expedition. 

15 



210 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER XV. 

COLONEL WARBURTON's JOURNEY ACROSS THE 
WESTERN INTERIOR. 

M'DouALL Stuart's crowning feat in exploration was 
soon turned to good account. The idea of a transcon- 
tinental telegraph now passed from the realms of 
Utopia and became a realized fact. The commercial 
interests of Australia had been urgently in need of 
communication with the Indo-European lines already- 
existing, but the o-reat desert of the interior was 
believed to interpose an impenetrable barrier. Now, 
at last, this misconception, which had been founded 
on ignorance, was removed by Stuart, who discovered 
a belt of good country stretching across the interior 
and reaching to the Indian Ocean. Along this route, 
with few deviations, the line runs from the Adelaide 
extension in the south to Port Darwin in the north. 
In this most creditable enterprise, which was com- 
completed in 1872, South Australia spent £370,000, 
and rendered excellent service to the exploration, as 
well as to the commercial interests, of Australia. Here 
was a new base-line for explorers, intersecting the 
continent from end to end. This advantage was not 
long in being put to j)ractical use. In South Australia 
the question of further exploration began to be 
agitated as soon as the line was opened. The Govern- 



COLONEL WARBURTON. 211 

ment was importuned for means to provide for an 
expedition to cut through the western interior, 
starting from the telegraph line at the centre of the 
continent. No aid was obtained from this quarter ; 
nevertheless, tJie projected tour of discovery did not 
fall through, for two private gentlemen, the Hon. 
Thomas Elder and Mr, W. W. Hughes, now came 
forward and oifered to bear the expense of the expedi- 
tion. The next important step was the choice of a 
leader, who was happily found in Colonel P. E. 
Warburton. This brave man was born in Cheshire, 
England, in 1818. He was early trained for the 
military profession, and served in India from IS.SI to 
1853. About the latter date he came out to South 
Australia, where he was appointed Commissioner of 
Police, and subsequently held the position of Com- 
mandant of the volunteer forces till 187-i. During 
these later years he had been engaged in several 
essays in exploration, in which he rendered good 
service to his country and prepared himself for the 
j)erilous, but successful, journey with wliich his name 
will ever be associated. 

The proper starting-point for the expedition was 
fixed for Alice Springs, a station on the overland tele- 
graph, situated almost in the centre of Australia ; and 
it was the leader's intention to make for the city of 
Perth, in the west, by the most direct course that could 
be found — a purpose which came to be considerably 
modified under the pressure of a terrible necessity. 
The rendezvous, 1,120 miles distant from Adelaide, 



212 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

was reached by way of Beltana, along a route now 
beginning to be pretty well known, and all was 
prepared for the start by the loth of April, 1873. The 
expedition, now first in the line of march, consisted of 
Colonel Warburton as leader, K Warburton (his son),. 
J. W, Lewis, D. White, two Afghans, and a black 
boy. The only beasts of burden were camels, which 
amounted to seventeen in number, and the supply of 
provisions was calculated to last for six months. The 
route for a short distance northward kept the line of 
the telegraph, till the Burt Creek was reached, after 
which it deflected toward the west. The difficulties 
which beset this journey began at the beginning and 
continued to its close, only increasing in severit}' with 
terrible consistency. Want of water compelled them 
again and again to retreat to former encampments^ 
thus causing a great part of the route to be travelled 
over two or three times. From this cause the eastern 
boundary of South Australia had to be crossed three 
times before permanent progress could be made in the 
proper course. From first to last the country proved 
to be a barren waste, without creek or river affording 
a supply of water. In the earlier part of the journej' 
an occasional oasis was met with containing perma- 
nent lakelets, at which the explorers would gladly 
have lino-ered to recruit themselves and rest the 
camels; but this delay meant consumption of the 
provisions, which it soon became evident were too 
scanty from the first. Warburton wisely resolved to 
feel his way as he proceeded through the desert by 



COLONEL WARBURTON. 213 

sending scouts in advance to search for water. This 
was seldom found, except in extremely sparse wells, 
which were used by the aborigines, and sometimes 
indicated by the smoke of their camps, but in 
hardly a single instance was direct information 
obtained from the blacks. The native wells in the 
sand not unusually indicated, rather than contained, 
water, and had often to be excavated to much greater 
ilepth. In this way, for the most part, was the desert 
crossed. When water was announced, an advance 
was made one stage further and a search party again 
sent out. It often happened that no water could lie 
found by the scouts after the most exhausting search, 
further progress being thus rendered impossible. In 
these cases there was no help for it but to change the 
direction, as far as their object would permit, and 
seek another tentative route. This was indescribal)ly 
trying to their spirits, but the other alternative was 
to perish in the sand. On some few occasions the 
clouds came to their relief and l)urst in thunderstorms. 
Even when only a slight shower fell, a few Ijuckets of 
water were secured by spreading a tarpaulin on the 
ground. On the 9th of May a deep glen was found 
in a range of hills. Here was an excellent supply of 
water, shaded by basalt rocks, rising to the heiglit of 
oOO ft. Here, too, the weary wanderers rested for a 
few days, as also at Waterloo Wells, a little ahead, for 
which they had to pay a penalty in the permanent 
loss of four camels, which su<ldenly decampe<l. They 
were tracked for a hundred miles, but never recovered. 



214 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

Hitherto their progress had been slow and dis- 
couraging. They had travelled 1,700 miles, but were 
yet at no great distance from Alice Springs. Nor 
was the outlook any more encouraging. Day after 
day it was the same weary journeying over spinifex 
ridges and sandy valleys, without any indication of 
the fine country they had hojDed to discover ; but, to 
their credit be it said, no one even hinted about giving 
up the enterprise. By the 17th of August a notable 
stage in their progress was reached. Warburton 
ascertained that he could not be more than ten 
miles distant from the most southern point reached 
by Mr. A. C. Gregory in 1856. The Colonel ascended 
a neighbouring hill to see if he could catch a glimpse 
of Termination Lake, into which Sturt's Creek had 
been found to empty itself. This salt lake was con- 
cealed by a range of sand-hills ; but Warburton 
verified his position, and thus had virtually connected 
his own surve}^ from the centre with the Gregory 
discoveries in the north. Advancing slowly, but 
surely, towards the west, a fine freshwater lake 
was discovered on the 30th. It abounded in water- 
fowl, which were more easily shot than recovered, 
as they had no means of reaching them in the 
water. From this point onward their troubles began 
to thicken with ominous rapidit}'. Eight of the 
seventeen camels were gone, while the stock of pro- 
visions, too, began to appear uncomfortably small, and 
had to be dealt out with a niggardly hand. It now 
became evident to the Colonel that the original plan 



COLONEL WARBURTON. 215 

of proceeding to Perth was impracticable, and he 
resolved to head further to the north, so as to strike 
the Oakover River and save the expedition. Their 
troubles were truly most afflicting in this great and 
terrible wilderness. The heat and toil of travelling- 
wore them out by day, and myriads of black ants 
deprived them of their sleep at night. They were 
now living on camels' flesh, dried in the sun, the only 
sauce being an occasional bird which fell to their guns. 
By the 2nd of November they had been reduced to 
dire extremity, both of famine and thirst. The Oak- 
over was estimated to be about 150 miles distant, and 
it was resolved to make a rush for it, taking their 
chance of an accidental discovery of water to keep 
them in life, for it was now a question of mere 
life and death. Respecting this latter and awfulh' 
perilous stage of the journey, it will be better to let 
Colonel Warburton speak for himself. The following 
extracts are from the entries in his journal as made 
during the crisis of his sufferings, when hope was fast 
giving place to despair : — " We killed our last meat 
on the 20th October ; a large bull camel has, there- 
fore, fed us for three weeks. It must be remembered 
that we have had no flour, tea, or sugar, neither have 
we an atom of salt, so we cannot salt our meat. AVe 
are seven in all, and are living entirely upon sun- 
dried slips of meat which are as tasteless and innu- 
tritious as a piece of dead bark. . . . We have 
abandoned eveiything but our small supply of water 
and meat, and each party has a gun. . . . We 



216 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

are hemmed in on every side : every trial we make 
fails ; and I can now only hope that some one or 
more of the party may reach water sooner or 
later. As for myself, I can see no hope of life, for 
I cannot hold up without food and water. I have 
given Lewis written instructions to justify his leaving 
me, should I die, and have made such arrange- 
ments as I can for the preservation of my journal 
and maps. . . . My party, at least, are now in 
that state that, unless it please God to save us, we 
cannot live more than 24 hours. We are at our last 
drop of water, and the smallest bit of dried meat 
chokes me. I fear my son must share my fate, as he 
refuses to leave me. God have mercy upon us, for 
we are brought very low, and by the time death 
reaches us we shall not regret exchanging our present 
misery for that state in which the weary are at rest. 
We have tried to do our duty, and have been disap- 
pointed in all our expectations. I have been in 
excellent health during the whole journey, and am so 
still, being merely worn out from want of food and 
water. Let no self-reproaches afflict any respecting 
me. I undertook this journey for the benefit of my 
family, and I was quite equal to it under all the 
circumstances that could be reasonably anticipated, 
but difficulties and losses have come upon us so 
thickly for the last few months that we have not 
been able to move. Thus, our provisions are gone ; 
but this would not have stopped us could we have 
found water without such laborious search. The 



COLONEL WARBURTON. 217 

country is terrible. I do not believe men ever 
traversed so vast an extent of continuous desert." 
They were, indeed, brought to the last extreme of ( 
misery. But man's extremity is God's opportunity, j 
A search party found a good well about twelve miles 
distant, which supplied all their necessities, and saved 
their lives. Another fortnight brought the forlorn 
wanderers to a creek with a good store of water at 
intervals. This proved to be a tributary of the Oak- 
over, to the banks of which they were thus led by 
such stages as could be travelled in their deplorably 
emaciated condition. The outskirts of civilization 
were all but reached. The pastoral station of De Grey 
was believed to be only a few days' travelling down 
the river, and a small detachment was sent to implore 
succour. The distance was really 170 miles, and three 
weary weeks had to be spent in hoping against 
hope till relief arrived. Help did come in abundance, 
and as speedily as was possible in the circumstances. 
The toils of the wilderness wanderings were now 
over ; all that remained was a terrible retrospect. 
It was reckoned they had not travelled less 
than 4,000 miles, including deviations and retreats 
when further advance became impracticable through 
want of water. Tlie result, looked at from an 
explorer's point of view, was, of course, a flat dis- 
appointment. Some had confidently expected to 
hear of a good pastoral country being discovered 
in tlie western interior which would prove a new 
liome to the enterprising squatter, and be depastured 



218 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

by myriads of flocks and herds. Instead of* this 
wished-for diseover}^ Colonel Warburton had to 
follow in the wake of Captain Sturt, and tell yet 
another tale of an arid desert with dreary ridges of 
sand succeeding each other like the waves of the sea 
— a country of no use to civilized, and very little to 
savao-e, man. Yet, even so, a jzood service had been 
rendered to the knowledge of Australian geography. 
Where the truth has to be known it is something- 
even to reach a negative result. If the western 
interior is a desert, it is a real gain to have this fact 
ascertained and placed on record. Another question 
set at rest by this expedition is the incomparable 
superiority of camels in Australian exploration, in 
point of endurance and in making long stages without 
water, A horse requires to be watered every twelve 
hours, but a camel will go without it for ten or 
twelve days on a pinch. This was not the first time 
they had been tried in Australia. Burke and 
Wills started with more "ships of the desert" than 
Warburton ; but the mismanao-ement which involved 
that enterprise in fatal disaster deprived the experi- 
ment of a fair chance of success. Warburton's was 
pre-eminently the camel expedition of Australia. 
The result justified the means. With all the aid of 
these invaluable beasts of burden the expedition, 
indeed, was brought to the very brink of ruin ; 
but without them everyone must inevitably have 
perished. 



HON. JOHN FORREST. 219- 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE HON. JOHN FORREST's EXPLORATIONS IN WESTERN 
AUSTRALIA. 

This distinguished explorer is a native oi' West 
Australia, and an honour to his country. He is a 
man of ability, well educated, and thoroughly com- 
petent for the work to which he has devoted so much 
of his time and attention. In early life he entered 
the Survey Department, where his services were 
appreciated and rewarded by an appointment, in 
1876, to the office of Deputy Surveyor-General. Mr. 
Forrest has gained imperishable laurels in the field of 
exploration. His ser^■ices in the three following- 
expeditions entitle him to a high position among the 
Australian explorers. A short notice of each is all 
that our space permits. 

I. 

About the close of 1868 a report reached Perth ta 
the effect that natives in the eastern districts knew of 
a party of white men who had been murdered some 
twenty years earlier. This rumour was strongly 
confirmed by a gentleman who ha<l penetrated into 
the interior in search of sheep-runs. He reported 
that his native guide had assured him he had been to 
the very spot where the murder had been connnitted,. 
and had seen tlie remains of white men. His storv 



220 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

was very circumstantial, stating that it was on the 
border o£ a large lake, and that the white men were 
killed while making damper. He volunteered, more- 
over, to conduct any party to the scene of the murder. 
The story possessed a sufficient likeness to truth to 
impose on grave and sober-minded men. Among 
these was Baron Von Mueller, of Melbourne, who 
organized a party to proceed to the spot, in the hope of 
finding the remains of Leichhardt's expedition. He 
intended to take the lead himself, but this purpose he 
had to change, through business engagements, and the 
expedition accordingly was placed under the com- 
mand of Mr. John Forrest. The route lay to the 
north-east from Perth. The party was able to pene- 
trate 2.50 miles in advance of former expeditions. 
This was, so far, another gain to the knowledge of 
Australian geography ; but the new country was 
found to be unsuitable for pastoral or agricultural 
purposes. In regard to its principal object, the 
expedition turned out a complete failure, adding 
only one other proof of the utter worthlessness of 
aboriginal testimony. The blackfellow who had led 
them out with such confidence made some signi- 
licant admissions as they proceeded on the journey. 
First, he had not, properly speaking, been at the place 
himself, or seen the relics, but had heard of them from 
others of the black fraternity ; then, again, he could 
not be sure whether they were the bones of men or 
horses — more likely, perhaps, the latter. Finally, it 
was pretty clearly ascertained that the whole story 



HON. JOHN FORREST. 221 

had originated from the remains of a number of 
horses which had belonged to the explorer Austin, and 
were poisoned in that neighbourhood. No traces of 
Leichhardt were found in that quarter, nor is it at all 
probable that he had penetrated so far west. 

II. 
Almost innnediately after returning from the search 
after Leichhardt, Mr. Forrest was put in command of 
a second expedition. Governor Weld was anxious to 
obtain a more accurate sur\'ey of the southern coast 
between Perth and Adelaide, with a view to tele- 
graphic connection. The largest and most difficult 
part of the route lay along the Great Australian 
Bight, which had been traversed with terrible suf- 
fering by Mr. E., J. Eyre thirty years previously. 
Since that time a little more information had been 
o-ained, tendino- to lessen the horrors of travel in that 
forbidding region; and Port Eucla, a valuable harbour, 
had been discovered just within the eastern boundary 
of West Australia. But the whole of the southern 
country from Perth to Adelaide required to be 
examined afresh for the object which was now 
contenq-)lated. Mr. John Forrest was easily persuaded 
to lead this t'xpedition, wliieli consisted of his brother, 
Mr. Alexander Forrest, as second in couunand. Police 
Constable M'Larty, a farrier, and two aboriginals. A 
small schooner, the Ailar, was despatclied, to wait 
witli supplies at Ivspcrance Bay, Israelite Bay, and 
Port Euela — an arrangement which greatly lessened 



222 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the difficulties and dangers of the expedition. After 
reaching the Great Bight the party followed, in a 
reverse direction, the line of Eyre's journey, keeping 
a little more inland, though they were never more 
than thirty miles from the sea. So far as the old 
explorer's tracks were followed, Forrest had the 
advantage of finding an occasional supply of water as 
indicated on the chart, and when he deviated from 
this route he was well rewarded by the discovery 
of better, and sometimes of really first-class country. 
The season, though too dry, seems to have been less 
so than when Eyre encountered the perils of this 
region, and for this reason occasional surface water 
was found, in very limited quantities. Yet on several 
of the lono- waterless stages both men and horses were 
near their last gasp in the agonies of thirst. From 
Port Eucla an attempt was made to penetrate for 
some distance to the north, in the interest of dis- 
covery. The land appeared, and has since been 
proved, to be of the best quality, but absolute want of 
water compelled the explorers to beat a retreat when 
they had proceeded only about thirty miles inland. 
The expedition again started on its proper course and 
rounded the head of the Bight. Soon an escort was 
in readiness from South Australia, which led them 
through the Gawler Ranges to the city of Adelaide. 
The party had started on the 30th of March, 1870, 
and their destination was reached on the 27th of 
August — not half the time Mr. Eyre had required for 
A much shorter journey. This new adventure in 



HON. JOHN FORREST. 228 

exploration was highly successful. A practicable 
route for the telegraph having been found, the line 
was constructed in the course of another year or two, 
thus connecting Perth with the intercolonial and 
also with the European telegraphic systems. Fine 
reaches of the best pastoral country were examined 
or indicated lying to the north of the wretched 
seaboard, the only drawback being the absence of 
permanent water. This difficulty is now being over- 
come by boring, by which means an ample supply is 
obtained at a reasonable depth. The latest proposal 
is to run a railway from Perth to Port Eucla, with 
probable extension to Adelaide. A syndicate has 
offered to construct it on the land-grant system, 
engineers are presently engaged on the survey, and 
its completion may be accepted as one of the great 
events of the near future. 

III. 

Mr. John Forrest's third expedition was much more 
arduous, as it was also of greater geographical import- 
ance, than either of the preceding. Before the trans- 
continental telegraph was fully completed, he proposed 
to the authorities at Perth to lead an exploring party 
across the centre of Western Australia from Champion 
Bay to the route of the new line, on condition of a 
grant from the Treasury of £400 for expenses, him- 
self engaging to provide another £200. The proposal 
was gladly accepted, and no time was lost in making 
the necessary preparations. His party, as tinall}' 



224 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

organized, consisted of Alexander Forrest, five whites, 
two aboriginals, and twenty-one horses. It being- 
resolved to keep the line of the Murchison to its 
sources, the start was made from Geraldton, Champion 
Bay, on the 1st of April, 1874. For some time the 
course lay to the south of the river, which was not 
joined till the 23rd, after which beautifully grassed 
country was travelled over. The Murchison in its 
upper waters divided into several channels, causing 
some perplexity. One of these was selected, and 
followed as far as it served their purpose, and then 
the course was directed to the watershed. Now they 
found themselves in a dry, barren land, which afforded 
the scantiest supply of water, and only after laborious 
search — sometimes not even then. Occasionally, but 
only at long intervals, a good native well was reached, 
when the temptation to rest for several days was 
irresistible. To the most noted of these Mr. Forrest 
gave the name of the Weld Springs, in honour of the 
Governor, who ever did his utmost to forward the 
exploration of the interior. The encampment at Weld 
Springs was not an unbroken pleasure. The blacks 
were numerous in the neighbourhood, and irreconcil- 
ably hostile. Finding his party assailed with mur- 
derous intent, Forrest, seeing it had become a question 
of self-defence, fired upon the natives, and some blood 
was shed. But for this act of stern necessity, it is 
evident that the explorers must have perished. This 
pleasant spot was but an oasis in a great desert, which 
became the more inhospital>le the further they pene- 



HON. JOHN FORREST. 225 

trated into its secrets. For 600 miles they had to 
thread their way through a wilderness of spinifex, 
.sometimes also approaching the verge of despair 
through want of water, in search of which the scouts 
had always to scour the country. In this desert the 
natives were seldom seen, and still more rarely could 
they be induced to come within speaking distance. 
At one place they decamped on the first appearance 
of the intruders on their desert home, leaving a whole 
kangaroo roasting on the fire. This would have been 
(|uite a godsend for Warburton and his party, but 
happily the present expedition was never reduced to 
such dire necessity. In another respect, too, Forrest 
seems to have had better luck than his brother 
explorers. During the latter part of his journey a 
kind of fig-tree ( Fiats 'platypoda) was occasionally 
met with, producing an agreeable fruit about the size 
of a bullet. Such a discovery in the wilds of Aus- 
tralia is nothing short of a marvel. Nature has 
reserved few such favours for this country-. Yet still 
better fortune was at hand. It became evident, first 
by faint and then by very plain indications, that they 
were coming on the tracks of Europeans. Only a 
short time previously Mr. Giles and Mr. Gosse had 
separately been out in these parts, but had to return 
for want of water. Still, a marked tree or an old 
camping-ground was an inspiring object, seeing they 
had been made by tra\cllers who had started from the 
opposite end of the journey. Much j-et remained to 
be <lone, l)ut the ground was now got over with mucli 



226 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

better heart. The monotony of the desert-wandering 
had been much relieved in a manner highly creditable 
to Mr. Forrest. Here, as in all his explorations, he 
remembered the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Regu- 
larly, as the Sunday came round, divine service was 
read in the camp. Even the old habit of a good 
Sunday dinner was not forgotten. People in different 
circumstances might not have thought the cheer much 
to be envied ; but hunger is the best sauce. If a 
pigeon or a parrot could be secured at the seasonable 
time it was reserved as a special treat for the Sunday 
dinner. But better things were in store. Persever- 
ance had not much longer to wait for its reward. 
Following the tracks of the preceding explorers, they 
came on to the Marryat River, which led them on to 
the Alberga, and this clue finally conducted the weary 
wanderers to the long-desired telegraph line. The 
journal of the expedition contains the following entry 
for the 27th August, 1874: — "Continued east for 
about twelve miles, and then E.N.E. for three miles, 
and reached the telegraph line between Adelaide and 
Port Darwin, and camped." [The 104th camp from the 
start.] " Long and continued cheers came from our 
little band as they beheld at last the goal to which we 
have been travelling for so long. I felt rejoiced and 
relieved from anxiety ; and in reflecting on the long 
time of travel we had performed through an unknown 
country, almost a wilderness, felt very thankful to 
that good Providence that had guarded and guided us 
so safely through it." A well-beaten track had now 



HON. JOHN FORREST. 227 

been made along the telegraph line, which the party 
followed, proceeding to the south. In a day or two 
the Peak station was reached. From this point 
the journey to Adelaide was made by easy stages. 
Forrest's track lay a long way south of Warburton's, 
and threw a streak of light across another dark region 
of the western half of Australia. The results of the 
journey are thus summed up in the explorer's own 
words : — " The whole of the country, from the settled 
districts near Champion Bay to the head of the 
Murchison, is admirably suited for pastoral settle- 
ment, and in a very short time will be taken up and 
stocked ; indeed, some has already been occupied. 
From the head of the Murchison to the T29th 
meridian, the boundary of our colony, I do not think 
will ever be settled. Of course, there are many grassy 
patches, such as at Windich Springs, the Weld 
Springs, all round Mount Moore, and other places ; 
but they are so isolated, and of such extent, that it 
would never jDay to take stock to tliem. The general 
character of this iunnense tract is a gently undulating 
spinifex desert — Feducjh (Triodia) irrlfan-'^, the 
spinifex of the desert explorers, but not the spinifex 
of science. It is lightly wooded .... and there 
is a great absence of any large timber." 



228 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

MR. ERXEST GILES's EXPLORATIONS IN CENTRAL AND 
WESTERN AUSTRALIA. 

Mr. Ernest Giles is a native of Bristol, in England- 
As soon as his education was finished he rejoined his 
father and family, who had preceded him to Australia. 
He very early developed a passion for exploration, and 
gained valuable experience in connection with various 
expeditions which he served in a subordinate capacity. 
His own fame as an explorer rests securely on the 
following enterprises : — 



Shortly after the construction of the Port Darwin 
telegraph, Mr. Giles made a persevering attempt to 
lead a small party from Chambers's Pillar to the 
sources of the Murchison Hiver. The expenses were 
provided partly by himself and partly by Baron Von 
Mueller, of Melbourne. The party consisted of 
Messrs. Giles, Carmichael, and A. Robinson, with 
fifteen horses and one dog. The start was made 
about the middle of August, 1872. For the early part 
of the journey the River Finke was followed, but it 
led them into a rugged, mountainous country-, in 
which travelling was difficult. The scenery was often 
charming, as one glen after another was explored. 



ERNEST GILES. 229 

Palm-Tree Glen, in particular, called forth unceasing 
admiration on account of the multitude of wild flowers 
which were " born to blush unseen and waste their 
sweetness on the desert air." " I collected to-day," 
says Mr. Giles, " and during the other days since we 
have been in this glen, a number of most beautiful 
flowers, which grow in profusion in this otherwise 
desolate glen. I am literally surrounded by fair 
flowers of many a changing hue. Why Nature should 
scatter such floral gems in such a sterile region is 
difficult to understand ; but such a variety of lovely 
flowers of every colour and perfume I have never met 
with previously. They alone would have induced me 
to name this the Glen of Flowers, but having found in 
it also so many of the stately palm-trees, I have called 
it the Glen of Palms." During a further advance 
among the outlying spurs of the M'Donnell Ranges, 
the Finke w^s left, or lost, and laborious search 
had often to be made for water. The mountains 
were hii>'h, but no creek was found with a lono-er 
course than twelve miles. The peaks often assumed 
strange and fantastic shapes, as the explorers have 
indicated by such names as Mount Peculiar, Haast's 
Bluff, &c. The following quotation from the journal 
shows how they were straitened at this time through 
want of water. After finding a little in the hollow of 
a rock, just sufficient to save life, Mr. Giles says : — " It 
was necessary to try to discover more water if 
possible, so, after breakfast, I walked away, but, after 
travelling up gullies and gorges, hills and valleys, I 



230 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

had to return quite unsuccessful, and I can only 
conclude that this water was permitted by a kind 
Providence to remain here in this lovely spot for iny 
especial benefit. ... I have, in gratitude, called 
it Mount Udor, as being the only one in this region 
where a drop of that requisite element was to be 
obtained. And when I left the udor had departed 
also." This incident occurred at the twenty-first camp 
from Chambers's Pillar. From this point a persevering, 
but unsuccessful, effort was made to strike out west in 
the direction of a chain named Ehrenberg's Mountain. 
Want of water again forced the party back on Mount 
Udor. A more southerly route led to the important 
discovery of a great saltwater lake, which was called 
Amadeus, after the then King of Spain, son of Victor 
Emanuel. Beyond this long, but comparatively narrow, 
sheet of water, a conspicuous mountain, named Olga, 
specially attracted the attention of Mr. Giles, who was 
anxious to reach it by rounding the lake. But this 
labour was prevented by an incident which, unhappily, 
caused the purpose of the expedition to collapse. 
Robinson had lieen seized with home-sickness, and the 
infection reached Carmichael, who obstinately refused 
to proceed any further. Giles tried the effect of 
moral >suasion, which was the only weapon available 
for a volunteer. He pleaded the large supply of 
provisions, the importance of the enterprise, and the 
ignominy of turning back. But it was to no purpose. 
Carmichael had made up his mind and would listen to 
no arguments. Giles was now compelled to direct his 



ERNEST GILES. 231 

march back to the telegraph line, " a baffled and 
beaten man." Durino- this inolorious retreat the 
course lay by the Peterman, the Palmer, and the 
Finke rivers, and by this route the original camp 
No. 1 was reached. Here is the conclusion of the 
whole matter in Mr. Giles's own words : — " My expe- 
dition was over. I had failed in my object (to 
penetrate to the sources of the Murchison River) 
certainly, but not through any fault of mine, as I 
think any impartial reader of my journal will 
admit. . . . We travelled to the eastward 
along the course of the River Finke (homeward), 
and passed a few miles to the south of Chambers's 
Pillar, which had been my starting-point. I had 
left it but twelve weeks and four days to the 
time I re-sighted it, and during that interval I had 
traversed and laid down about a thousand miles of 
country. My expedition thus early ends. Had I 
been fortunate enough to have fallen upon a good, or 
even fair, line of country, the distance I actually' 
travelled would have taken me across the continent." 

II. 

A second attempt was made by the same explorer 
shortly after his return from the first. The funds 
being provided by the liberality of the Victorian 
colonists, a light party, consisting of Messrs. Giles, 
Tietkens, Gibson, and Andrews, with twenty-four 
liorses, were despatched for the purpose of crossing 
the western half of Australia. They left the tele- 



232 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

graph road at the junction of the Stevenson and 
Alberga creeks on the 4th of August, 1873. The 
latter was followed for some distance westward, after 
which, by a short cross-country route to the north, 
the Hamilton River was reached, and taken as a guide 
so far as was practicable. This journey led to the 
discovery of four remarkable mountain-chains. The 
first of these was named Anthony Range. From one 
of the summits they beheld a sea of mountains, count- 
less in number, many of which presented the most 
comically fantastic shapes and forms which the 
imagination can conceive. Ayer's Range was next 
reached, and an equally commanding view obtained 
from one of its heights. The next was the Muso-rave 
Range, occupying a central position in a far-reaching 
expanse of good country. Here the natives were 
encountered in a hostile attitude, but were beaten off 
by the superior arms of four white men. After a 
journey of 400 miles they reached Mt. Olga, which 
had been sighted on the former expedition. In this 
neighbourhood also, they found the tracks of Mr. 
Gosse, a contemporary explorer, which led to a devia- 
tion from the proposed route. In Cavanagh's Range 
a depot was established, as a basis for tentative explo- 
rations in a forbidding tract of country. About 110 
miles from this centre they made a welcome discovery 
of a waterfall of 150 feet, sending forth a musical 
roar as it fell, and scattering around a plentiful shower 
of spray. This gladdening apparition in the desert 
received the name of the Alice Falls. The country in 



ERNEST GILES. 233 

the immediate neio-hbourhood was also well o-rassed. 
This place has doubtless a future in store for it. 
Turning more to the north, in the direction of a 
Ijroken country, another splendid range, named 
the Rawlinson, w^as discovered. It extended to 60 
miles in length, with a breadth of live or six. 
The peaks were remarkably pointed and jagged. 
From this position an attempt was made to 
strike out in a north-westerly direction, but bad 
fortune compelled them to return after Mt. 
Destruction had been reached. Four of the horses 
had been lost in a journey of ninety miles ; water 
was not to be found ; the natives were trouble- 
some ; and the eye could discern nothing ahead but 
spinifex desert and rolling sand-hills. A return to 
the Rawlinson Range was, therefore, imperative. 
Having again rested for a little, another determined 
effort was made to force a passage due west across the 
interior and strike the outposts of settlement in 
Western Australia. All was done that man could do, 
l)ut impossibilities are not to be accomplished. The 
western Hanks of the Rawlinson Range faded away 
into a barren and waterless desert. Giles and Gibson 
had, as a gigantic eftbrt of perseverance, penetrated 
98 miles into this inhospitable waste. But no fuiiher 
could they go. Here, on the 23rd of April, the utmost 
bourne of the expedition was reached. One of the 
two horses here knocked up and died. This was the 
last time Gibson was seen. Giles did liis utmost to 
bring him help, but he was never found. His bones 



234 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

lie somewhere in that awful wilderness, which to this 
day bears his name. When the furthest point was 
reached better fortune seemed to loom in the distance. 
Another range of lofty mountains was descried 
athwart the western horizon, which he called the 
Alfred and Marie, after the Duke and Duchess of 
Edinburgh. They might as well have been in the moon 
so far as Mr. Giles was concerned in his now pitiable 
plight. His own reflections were deplorably bitter: — 
" The hills bounding the western horizon were between 
thirty and forty miles away, and it was with extreme 
regret that I was compelled to relinquish a further 
attempt to reach them. Oh, how ardently I longed 
for a camel ; how ardently I gazed upon the scene ! 
At this moment I would even my jewel eternal have 
sold for power to span that gulf that lay between. 
But it could not be ; situated as I was, I was compelled 
to retreat, and the sooner the better." Such was his 
destiny. After almost twelve months' wanderings in 
the wilderness, three of the four explorers escaped 
with their lives, and reached the central telegraph 
line on the 13th of July. 

III. 

Such battling with relentless fortune would have 
extinguished the spirit of adventure in most men. 
In the case of Mr. Giles it fanned it into a brighter 
flame. Refusing to be baflied, his noble perseverance 
was at length rewarded with a double journey across 
the western half of the continent. This expedition 



ERNEST GILES. 285 

was fitted out by Sir Thomas Elder, of Adelaide, who 
supplied him with nineteen camels and provisions for 
eighteen months. The party consisted of Messrs. 
Giles, Tietkens, Young, A. Ross, P. Nicholls, Selah 
(an Afghan), and a black boy. The route proposed 
was from Youldah to Perth, and the start was made 
on the 27th July, 1875. This, though a successful, 
was a very trying journey. They crossed desert 
after desert for a distance of 1,500 miles. On one 
occasion they were reduced to the last extremit}- of 
thir«t, and saved from perishing by the happy dis- 
covery of a spring in the Great Victoria Desert, 600 
miles from the out-settlements of Western Australia. 
They reached Perth on the 10th November, having 
travelled a distance of 2,575 miles in about five 
months. The following is Mr. Giles's summary of the 
journey : — " The expedition has been successful, yet 
the country traversed for more than a thousand miles 
in a straight line was simply an undulating bed of 
dense scrub, except between the 125th and 127th 
meridians, the latitude being nearly the 80th parallel. 
Here an arm of the Great Southern Plain ran up and 
crossed our track, which, though grassy, was quite 
waterless. The waters were, indeed, few and far 
between throughout. On one occasion, a stretch of 
desert was encountered in which no water was 
oVjtainable for 825 miles, which only the marvellous 
sustaining powers of Mr. Elder's all-enduring beasts 
enabled us to cross. The next desert was onl}' 180 
miles to a mass of trranite, where I saw natives for 



236 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

the first time on tlie expedition. They attacked us 
there, but we managed to drive them oft". Mount 
Churchman was now only 160 miles distant, and we 
found water aoain before reachincj it. We struck in 
at Toora, an out-station, where the shepherd was very 
hospitable. At other homesteads we were most 
kindly welcomed." By another journey, in a reverse 
direction, across the western interior, Mr. Giles 
returned to the central telegraph, which for so long- 
had formed his base of operations. Leaving Perth on 
the 13th of January, 1876, he pushed north, and 
struck the Ashburton River, thence passed through 
1.50 miles of desert, and from the opposite side reached 
the Alfred and Marie Range, from which he had been 
so piteously thrust back in 1873. He soon after 
reached the Rawlinson Range, which he had dis- 
covered on that same expedition. Being now in a 
known country, he passed safely through it, and 
reached the Peak telegraph station on the 23rd of 
August, 1876. His journey thence to Adelaide was 
ordinary travel in the Australian bush. 



CONCLUSION. 237 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

OTHER EXPLORERS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. — 
CONCLUSION. 

There still remain a considerable number of the 
explorers of Western Australia, whose achievements, 
though inferior to the foregoing, would have called for 
particular notice had this been an exhaustive work. 
A very brief outline of the journeys of the most 
prominent is all that can be attempted here. We 
shall begin with Captain, afterwards Sir George, Grey, 
so well known in later times as a new Zealand 
statesman. From 1837 to 1840 he was occupied with 
two expeditions for the exploration of the country 
lying between the coast and the first range. Both 
journeys were exceedingly hazardous — none more so in 
this department of history. During the first Prince 
Regent's River was explored ; but the most important 
result was the discovery of the River Glenelg, which 
was described as one of the finest in Australia. The 
second expedition was directed to Shark's Bay, which 
was reached in February, 1839. The most important 
discovery during this journey was the River Gas- 
coyne. The expedition ■\\'as soon overtaken by terrible 
misfortunes, which compelled the party to make for 
Swan River liy the quickest route. The first attempt 
was made in a small boat, wliich got no further 



288 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

than Gantheauine Bay, where it was dashed to pieces 
on the beach. To save their lives they had now to 
walk on foot along an inhospitable coast for 800 
miles, with no more provisions than twenty pounds of 
Hour and one pound of pork to each man. Grey 
struggled along and gave a heroic example to the men 
under his charge. When he arrived at Perth he 
looked like a spectre, and his most intimate friends 
did not know him. He has himself told us what was 
the secret of his moral strength : — " It may be asked," 
he said, " if, during such a trying period, I did not 
seek from religion that consolation which it is sure to 
afford. My answer is, yes ; and I further feel assured 
that but for the support I derived from prayer and 
frequent perusal of the Scriptures, I should never 
have been able to have borne myself in such a manner 
as to have maintained discipline and confidence 
among the rest of the party ; nor in my sufferings did 
I ever lose the consolation derived from a firm reli- 
ance upon the goodness of Providence. It is only those 
who go forth into perils and dangers, amidst which 
humanjoresight and strength can but little avail, and 
who find themselves day after day protected by an 
unseen influence, and ever and anon snatched from 
the very jaws of destruction by a power which is not 
of this world, who can at all estimate the knowledge 
of one's own weakness and littleness, and the firm 
reliance and trust upon the goodness of the Creator 
which the human heart is capable of feeling." 

The next in order is Mr. J. S. Roe, Surveyor- 



CONCLUSION. 239 

General of Western Australia. With a party of six 
men, eleven horses, and four months' provisions, he 
started from York in September, 1.S48, for the 
southern part of the colony. Leaving the last sta- 
tions of the River Avon, he went S. h S. in a direction 
which had not yet been explored. In a short time he 
got into a poor country, which contained the heads of 
the Avon, the Williams, the Arthur, and other rivers. 
In 45 miles further he came to the Pallinup River, the 
last water which had been crossed by Eyre on his 
journey along the Great Bight. He followed it to the 
neighbourhood of Cape Riche, the latter part of this 
stage being through a well-grassed country. Here a 
squatting station was found, and a much -needed rest 
obtained. The next effort was to make the Bremer 
Range. In the intervening part, a river, the Jeera- 
mungup, was discovered in a good tract of country, 
which was again succeeded by poor land. The Bremer 
Range was reached by the 3rd November. There was 
a hard journey thence to the Russell Range, which 
was near Eyre's country, and of the same description. 
The coast was reached opposite the Recherche Archi- 
pelago. Roe had now travelled 1,000 miles from 
Swan River, and found it necessary to return, and in 
doing so kept very much to Eyre's track as far as 
Cape Riche. The most important result of this 
joiirney was the discovery of several seams of coal. 
The return to Perth was made by way of the Pallinup 
River. The party hatl been absent 149 days, and 
travelled 1,800 miles. 



240 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS. 

The third explorer who shall be briefly noticed is 
Mr. R. Austin, who was Assistant Surveyor-General. 
He was despatched hj the Government to search for 
gold in the country north and east of the settled 
districts. The part}^ consisted of ten men, twenty- 
seven horses, and 120 days' provisions. By the 10th 
of July, 1854, they had left the head of SAvan River, 
and entered on a wretchedly poor country, in which 
all the bushes were dead. Another fifty miles' travel 
brought them to a table-land with some hio-h moun- 
tains, the most conspicuous of which received the 
name of Mt. Kenneth. Soon after a severe mishap 
Ijefell the expedition. The horses having eaten a 
poisonous plant, twenty-four died within a few hours, 
leaving the explorers in a very helpless condition. 
They pushed on, nevertheless, and displayed an 
admirable perseverance. On the 24th of August 
they reached a magnetic hill, which was called Mt. 
Magnet, and returned for rest to Recruit Flat. The 
country next traversed lay between the Great Salt 
Lake and West Mt. Magnet, dry, rough, and stony 
throughout. One curious discovery was a cave with 
life-like figures of animals drawn by the aborigines. 
Some similar exhibitions of savage art had previously 
been discovered by other explorers in the north and 
west. The party came again to poisonous bushes, and 
the horses had to be watched night and da}'. Thence, 
taking a westward course, they got within fifty miles 
of Shark's Ba}', when want of food compelled them 
to retreat to the Geraldine mines on the Murchison 



CONCLUSION. 241 

River. Here the party broke iip, some returning to 
Perth by sea and the rest overland. The expedition 
failed in its principal object ; nor was it in other 
respects much of a success. 

It would be unpardonable to close this list without 
mention of Mr. F, T. Gregory's services in the 
exploration of West Australia. In April, 1858, he led 
an expedition from the Geraldine mines to examine the 
country between the Gascoyne River and Mt. Mur- 
chison. This effort was attended with much success. 
At least a million acres of good land were discovered 
— quite a Godsend for this colony, which is so rich in 
deserts. The principal places discovered and named 
were Mt, Nairn, Lockyer Range, Lyons River, the 
Alma, and Mt. Hall. 

It is but right to add that the exploration of the 
interior has been largely indebted to private enter- 
prise, of which there is no particular record. The 
pioneer squatters, in search of " fresh fields and 
pastures new," have not been afraid to invade un- 
known territories, nor have they gone without their 
reward. When a line patch of country has Ijeen 
discovered they have usually been quite willing to 
sacrifice their merit as explorers to the caresses of 
private fortune, Ijeing mindful, perhaps, of the old 
proverb which tells us "the crow would have more to 
eat if he were less noisy over his food." Tlie same 
cause has been helped on, also, by the search for gold, 

than wliich nothing: will entice man further from 

17 



242 THE AUSTRALIAN EXPLORERS, 

home, or collect them in greater crowds. In this 
way much available country has lately been opened 
up in the Kimberley district of Western Australia, and 
the process is still going on, with many promising 
prospects. It is extremely probable that this northern 
region will soon be reckoned one of that colony's most 
valuable possessions, both in the squatting and the 
mining interests. 

As the combined result of all the foregoing agencies, 
Australia has virtually ceased to be an unknown land 
by the close of the first century of our history. Even 
the great desert of Western Australia, real or sup- 
posed, has been crossed again and again, while lesser 
enterprises, issuing from all sides, have carried the 
fringe of the known territory further and further 
inland. Even yet the spirit of exploration keeps 
awake, and refuses to rest so long as a patch of the 
interior remains to be examined. While these sheets 
are passing through the press an exploring party, 
supported again by Adelaide, are preparing for the 
interior, in order to wrest from its grasp such secrets 
as it may yet retain. 

It is pleasing to observe how a better acquaintance 
with Australia, both in the way of discovery and 
settlement, is surely leading on to the belief that it 
will yet be the home of a numerous population. For 
a long period it was reckoned unfit to be the habita- 
tion of civilized man, except along the seaboards. The 
want of water, and continuous deserts, were supposed 
to have placed the interior beyond the pale of settle- 



CONCLUSION. 243 

ment. But experience has already revealed a system 
of compensations by which this hasty judgment has 
come to be reversed, and the back country settled by a 
thriving population. There are deserts, indeed, in 
which one miwht search in vain for a blade of j^'rass, 
but they contain many patches of nutritious shrubs, 
which not only keep alive, but even fatten, stock. 
Water, too, is scarce, but, by another of these 
admirable compensations, it is capable of being stored 
in any quantity, and for any length of time, without 
becoming putrid — an advantage unknown to the 
home countries. The rainfall, moreover, is very scant 
— perhaps not more than seven inches per annum in 
the far interior — but then the recent borings with the 
diamond drill have shown that an abundant supply 
may be obtained from subterranean sources. The 
latest announcement made to us, now standing on the 
threshold of the centennial year, is the most en- 
couraging of all. By the ticking of the telegraph we 
learn that an experiment at Barcaldine, in Queens- 
land, has brought to the surface of the bore a daily 
discharge of something approaching to 100,000 gallons 
of water tit for all purposes. Experience is ever 
revealing new relations of material adaptability. 
There is a sympathy lietwecn a country and its 
inhabitants, whicli may have a deeper foundation than 
the fancy of the poet. The land and the people are 
the complements of one another. " God made the 
earth to be inhabited," and there is now no fear of 
Australia being an exception to the rule. 



INDEX. 



-•?•- 



Aborigines, 67, 79, 88, 103, 106, 
123, 120, 127, 128, 136, 140, 
147, 149, 150, 162, 179, 186, 
191 
Abundance, Mt., 160, 161 
Adelaide, 97 

River, 23, 207 
Albany, Port, 145, 149 
Albert R., 23, 182, 193 
Alexandrina, L., 82 
Alice R., 143 
Amadeus, L., 230 
Arnheim B., 18 
Austin, Mr. R., 240 
Australia, wliy so called, 13 
Western, 97 
Crossiui;, 209, 210 
Centre of, 197, 201 
Austrulis, Calamus, 146 

BalonneR., 13S 

Barcoo R. , 95, 1 43 

Bass's Discoveries, 6- 1 9 

Strait, 11, 12 
Bathurst, Plains of, 30, 67-70 

Laid out, 36 
Batman, Jolm, 126 
Baudin, 15 ^ 
BelyandoR., 142 
Bight, Great Australian, 99-101, 

221 
Blacks— see Aborigines 
Blaxland, Gregory, 28 
Blue Jilts., 25-33 

Unsuccessful attempt 
to cross, 25-27 

Crossed, 28-33 
Bogaii R., 71, 119-121 
I'lotany 1)., I 
liottle Trees, 139 
Bourke, Fort, 121 



Bridge, St. George's, 138 
Brisbane R. , 57 
Broken B. , 5 
Burdekin R., 166 
Burke, R. O'Hara, 168 

and Wills, 169-181 
Byng, Mt., 134 

Camels, 169, 213, 215, 218 
Campaspe R., 134 
Carpentaria, 135, 193 

Gulf of, 18, 173,189 
Castlereagh R. , 42, 73 
Condamine R. , 154 
Clark, George, alias " George 

the Barber," 111 
Coal, Discovery of, 239 
Cogoon R., 1,39 
Convicts, 135 
Cook, Capt., 1-3 
Cooper's Ck., 93 
Creek, Chambers's, 199 

Attack, 202 
Cunningham, Allan, 53-65 

Richard, 119-120 

Gap, 63 
Curtis B., 17 

Danger Point, 2 
Darling Downs, 60-61 

R., 71, 72, SO, 122, 137 
Darwin, Port, 209 
Dawson R. , 154 
Depot Glen, S7 
Desert, Gibson's, 233-234 
Disappointment, Mt., 51 
Drouglits, 73, 74, 87 

Eden, a new, 1.30 
Encounter Bay, 15 



246 



INDEX. 



Endeavour, ship, 1, 2 

R., -2 
Essington, Port, 221 
Eucla, Port, 221 
Euryaleaii Scrub, 39 
Evans, Surveyor, 34-36 
Eyre, E. J., 85, 96-119 
Creek, 90 

Falls. Alice, 232 
Fawkner, J. P., 126 
Farmer's Ck., 32 
Finke, Mt., 196, 197 
Fish R., 35 

Fitzmaurice R., 23, 164 
Fitzroy Downs, 139, 159 
Fleet, First, 4 
Flinders' Discoveries, 6-19 

R., 22, 23, 191, 193 
Floods, Sudden, 137 
Forrest, Hon. John, 219-22S 
Foxes, Flying, 156 

Garden, Sydney Botanic, 63-64 
George's R. , 6 
Giles, Ernest, 228-276 
Gipps, Sir George, 153 
Gosse, Mr., 225 
GlenelgR., 132 
Grampians, 132 
Gregory, A. €., 163-166 
Grey, Sir George, 237, 238 

Hackmg, Port, 7 
Harris, Mt., 69 
Hawkesbury R., 5 
Hely, Hovenden, 161, 162 
Henty, Edward, 125, 133 
Hicks, Point, 1 
Hastings R., 43 
Hopeless, Mt., 177 
Horses Poisoned, 240 
Hovell, Capt., 47-52 
Howitt, Alfred, 183-185 
Hume, Hamilton, 46-52 

Illawarra, 7 
Iramoo Downs, 52 
Isaacs, R. 155 



Jackson, Port, 2 
Jervis B. , 8 

Kangaroo Island, 14 
Grass, 129 
Rats, 155 
Karaula R. , 116 
Kennedy, E. B., 135, 139, 144, 

151 
Kimberley, 242 
Kindur R., 112 
King, Governor, 16 

Admiral, 19-23 
Explorer, 171 
Found with the blacks, 1 84 
Kites, Plague of, 155 
Kyte, Ambrose, 167 

LachlanR., 35, 38-40 

Swamps, 39 
Lakes, 131, 132. 185, 186 
Landsborough. 182, 192, 193 
Lang, Mt., 155 
Lawson, William, 28 
Leeuwin, Cape, 14 
Leichhardt, 152-162, 220, 221 
Ijiverpool Plains, 43 
Loddon R., 129 
Logan R., 61 
Lynd R., 155 

Macedon, Mt., 134 
Mackenzie R., 154 
Macquarie R., 35, 41, 42 

Port, 43 

Swamps, 41, 42, 70 
Mannmg R., 44 
Maranoa R., 139 
Massacre, L. , 186 
: M'Kinlay, John, 182, 185-189 
Melbourne, 16 
Menindie, 169 
Mirage, 196 

Mitchell, Sir Thomas, 80, 1 10-143 
More ton B. , 154 
Mosquitos, 207 
Murchison R., 224 
Murrumbidgee R. , 48, 75 
Murray R., 50, 77-84, 128, 134 

NamoiR., 43, 115 



INDEX. 



247 



Nardoo, 178, 186 
New South "\^'ales, M'hy so 
called, 3 
Foundation of, 4 
NiveR., 141 
Nivelle R., 141 
NogoaR., 141 
Norman R., 190, 191 

Captain, 182, 191 

OakoveiR., 215 
Overlanding, 98 
Oxley, John, 37-44, 69 

His Journal, 38 

His unfortunate predic- 
tion, 45 

Palms, Glen of, 229 
Pandora's Pass, 56 
Petrel, Sooty, 10 
Pillar, Chambers's, 199 
Phillip, Port, 16 • 
Plant, Poisonous, 240 
Portland B., 133 
Promise, Plains of, 23 

Rawlmson Range, 233 
Reef, Great Barrier, 17 
Religion, Powerful support of, 

238 
Roe, J. S., 238, 239 
Roper R., 206, 207 
Rossiter B., 107 
Rufus R. , why so called, 82 

Saltbusli, 136, 137 

Sea, Inland, supposed existence 

of, 42, 201 
Seaview, Mt. , 43 
Shoalhaven, 8 
Snowy jNIts. , 49 
Soil, Poor, accounted for, 81 
Sound, King George's, 107 
" Spring " Country, 198 
Squatters, Pioneer, 136, 159 
Stapylton, L., 127 
Stephens, Port, 44 



Stokes, Capt. , 23 

Stony Desert, 90, 93, 94, 188 

Strzelecki's Ck., 93 

Stuart, John M'Douall, 194-209 

Central Mt., '201 
Sturt, Capt., 66-95, 166 

Ck., 164 

Plains, 204 
Sunday Services, 226 

Dinner, 226 
Sydney Harbour, 4 

Telegraph, Transcontinental, 209 
Termination, L. , 164 
Territory, Northern, 209 
Torrens, L., 98,99, 195 
Transportation, 3 
Tumut R.. 49 
Twofold B., 9 

Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) 

circumnavigated, 10-12 
Victoria, 125-135 

R., 23, 143,163, 164,202 

Walker, Frederick, 182, 190-192 

Warrego R. , 141 

Warburton, Colonel. 210-218 

Warning, Mt. , 2 

Water, How found, 102, 103, 
Searching for, 213 
Subterranean, 243 
Caught during shower 
by tarpaulin, 213 

Weld, Governor, 224 
Springs, 224 

Wellington Vallej% 40 

Wells, Native, 213 

Wentworth, W. C, 28 

Western Port, 9 

Wickham, Capt., 23 

William, Mt., 131 

Wills, W., 168, 169 

Wimmera R. , 131 

Yass Plains, 47 
York, Cape, 145 



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